Is there an adult around here?

Some days I feel like I have it all together (there are fewer of those these days) and some days I just have to embrace that life is messy. And I’m a big (hot) mess.

I was up with both Olive and Willow multiple times in the night and early morning and succumbed to the Starbucks drive thru on the way back from school drop off. After going through my mental to-do list I realized I STILL hadn’t returned Olive’s overdue library books. And I mean we had checked them out in September (and renewed every four weeks). When I went online to check them, I realized we’d been charged over $50 in fines. At first , I assumed my last renewal request hadn’t gone through and after mentally kicking myself I went ahead and paid the fine and then immediately packed up the car to return the books (Really, enough was enough already. Why did I require eight months to read “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”?). The truth was that one of the books had gotten into Olive’s destructive hands and I was ashamed to have to return it as I had never damaged a library book before. I feared “tsk tsk-ing” and eye rolls almost as much as having to pay for the book (which probably would’ve been $20 and now I’d paid $54 in fines).

After leaving two books in the drop box and going to pay for the third, the librarian scanned the book and told me that I’d already been charged for it as it had been marked as lost so it was my book now. I thanked her and apologized up and down and then headed back out to finish errands before preschool was over. It wasn’t until I got home later that I realized that the $54 wasn’t fines, because I’d kept the books for SO long, they assumed they were lost (because I mean really, eight months of renewals to read Disney Pixar’s 5 Minute Bedtime Stories is a little excessive). Which essentially means I’d paid for three books and returned two of them.

Fast forward to lunch time at home while I’m trying to call the library about the books and I’m also trying to put PJ Masks on for the eighth time for Olive, all while Olive is screaming for “LUNCHEMS!!!” (Lunchables). Also because my iPhone’s screen is cracked (because if I’ve spent eight months not returning library books, I’ve also spent two months not getting my iPhone screen fixed). Which is why I couldn’t bring up the buttons I needed to pick “option 3” and talk to a library staff person. I finally lost it and started yelling expletives at the phone all while punching buttons on the remote and trying to tap on the iPhone screen.

That’s when I hear Olive yell, “GAWD! FUUUUUUUUUUXXXXX!”

“Olive, I’m so sorry mommy said bad words but please don’t say them.”

“GAWD!!! FUUUUUUUXXX!”

And then I look down at my phone and realized we were leaving the library a voicemail. And because the screen wasn’t cooperating, I didn’t have the option to delete it.

Today has been a rough day, but I’ve learned a few things.

  1. Do not try to adult without at least four hours of consecutive sleep.
  2. At least Olive learned new swear words AFTER preschool.
  3. Don’t hold onto library books so many times the library assumes you lost them or are dead.
  4. Don’t wait so long to get your phone fixed that all the apps on the phone work except for the phone itself.
  5. If you accidentally leave a random voicemail that is just a ranting adult screaming expletives and a toddler that swears like a sailor they WILL refund you for the books you returned when you call back without asking too many questions.look-me-adulting.jpg

One in Sixty-Eight

Olive has autism.

You know when you say the thing out loud you don’t really want to say, because if you say it out loud, it’s real?

I realize that is a ridiculous sentiment. Its real regardless of whether I say the words out loud or not.

I took Olive to the developmental pediatrician on April 12th. It took me three months to book the appointment so I should’ve been full of anticipation and nervous but I wasn’t. I don’t know if its because it was the day after her birthday and a few days before her birthday party so I just had too much going on or I honestly just didn’t think anything would come out of the appointment.

But after watching and playing with Olive for two and a half hours and talking about some of the things he’d noticed, the pediatrician said that the developmental and speech delays we’d experienced were part of a larger issue and he felt confident that she was on the spectrum. I suddenly felt like I was underwater, hearing everything he said afterwards from a distance. Everything around me grew incredibly silent and remarkably loud all at the same time. My throat closed up and my stomach dropped as I watched her happily play dinosaurs and crash cars as if everything were just the same. Because it wasn’t her world that was just turned upside down, it was mine.

I had to ask him to repeat everything he said at least four times. He said that although it’s an early diagnosis, he thought she was probably High Functioning (HFA) and the form of treatment would be fifteen hours a week of intensive early intervention therapy in the form of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). Kids that receive this therapy before the age of five have the best prognosis, but in terms of the “big picture” he couldn’t say what her life would be like. A lot would depend on how she responded to therapy. Come back for a follow up appointment in six months.

I spent a lot of time over the next week being confused, sad, and angry. I’ve spent a lot of time talking with other people who have children or relatives on the spectrum as well as people who work with autistic children and young adults. They said that its normal to go through a “grieving process” with this diagnosis for the life you thought your child would have. The hardest part is not knowing what this diagnosis will mean for her life. Will she be able to have a career? A marriage? A mortgage? Adult (Frankly, I question this in myself on a daily basis)? At this point, we just don’t know. I know Olive will have the life she wants to lead, whatever life that may look like. Because we will do everything it takes to give her the tools to carve the life she wants for herself. Just like any other parent without a child on the spectrum.

Part of what bothered me initially with this diagnosis is that it felt that the very things that I loved about my daughter: her quirkiness, her mannerisms, her love of building, the way she repeats phrases in answer to a  question, the way she crashes her cars and knocks down block towers, her love of spinning, her haphazard way of walking and running, basically all the things that I felt made her unique and beautiful were now symptoms of a disorder. I’ve had to spend a lot of time since April 12th reminding this part of myself that my daughter is that same little girl she was on April 11th and every day before it. No diagnosis will change her or define her.

Since I’m not one to NOT share, I’ve of course been fairly open about our experiences the last month and our journey in general with her evaluations and therapy treatments for developmental delays with family, friends, and acquaintances. I will continue to share this journey through my blog because I want to help any one I can if possible and frankly, it is cathartic for me as I process everything I learn on this very new road we are on. I will also share what I try to advise any one that has questions about how and why we sought out a pediatric developmental evaluation to begin with and what to look for. If you think for any reason, that something is “not right” or “off,” speak up. You are always your child’s best advocate. It’s always best to get treatment early than to spend time secretly wondering if there is something bigger going on apart from a quirky toddler who is very strong willed. Who just happens to be very good at building towers and lining up trains. Who knows ALL of their alphabet, numbers, colors and shapes but couldn’t tell you without six months of speech therapy at the age of two. There’s a reason why autism is a spectrum; no one child with autism looks the same or has the same symptoms. One in sixty-eight children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and it is believed that one in forty-eight actually may be on the spectrum, but so many still go undiagnosed. Please don’t be afraid of autism. It has many faces and this one is my favorite.

autism2

 

Carpe Diem. Or don’t.

Today has been a failure. I define a failure as a twenty-four hour period where nothing on my to-do list is accomplished both because every attempt has been thwarted by either a toddler or a baby, or by me, and also because I can’t find my to-do list. I’m wearing one shoe, and face planted into the couch, watching my Zumba DVD but not actually participating in the act of Zumba, while Olive runs around the living room making it rain play-doh and demanding to watch more videos on You Tube, most likely of children playing with toys she already has. Also, I’m crying on the inside.

I will tell you how I got here.

I had plans today. We were going to go to the park, I was going to work out and clean the house and play with Olive and do all sorts of things I have written down on a list I can’t find.

It was a new day; twenty four hours to really delve into my to do list (the one I wrote for the week on Sunday but is most likely either sitting on a pile of crap on the dining room table or being made into poop by the dog). I was going to take the kids out to do fun things, and I was even going to get up before the kids and work out.

I’ve been trying to make up for the fact that we’ve been cooped up in the house because one of us has had either the stomach flu or a very nasty cold since December 22nd. I’ve spent the last three weeks  covered in so much vomit, diarrhea, snot and general oozing discharge coupled with straight cabin fever that my eyes are beginning to get twitchy and to say that my fuse has been short would be a mild understatement.

So even though Willow woke up before 5 am for the second night in a row with a drippy nose and hacking cough, I did not disparage. It’s ok, I can work out during their nap and she will be better by ten AM surely. But it was clear after spending the next 1.5  listening to her congested snoring  that it would not be so. It was also clear, while clinging to the six inches of the bed that she allowed me when I brought her back into bed with me that  I would not sleep well this morn. When Olive woke up at seven ,I could take heart in the fact that I was right. Not that baby snuggles aren’t awesome, but I cannot run on coffee and wine alone.

Ok, so scratch being too adventurous today, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun and get stuff done around the house. Except after having half a pot of coffee while trying to navigate, clean clothes (because Murphy’s Law clearly states that if someone in diapers can pee past their diaper’s capacity they will) and breakfast (because I am sneaking eating the last banana in the kitchen while trying to explain to Olive that chocolate cake is not breakfast), I succumbed to the fact that it was 9:30 and not only had Olive been watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and play doh videos on the laptop all morning, at this rate it would only continue. I finally brought out her own play doh which she promptly discovered ways to shove it into niches and crannies all over the living room. I’m sure I will only continue to find remnants of dried play-doh in random places in the coming days. Perhaps in my missing shoe.

Its ok, I told myself, we’ll get out of the house and grab Subway for lunch after I get some cleaning done (which ended up consisting of me loading and running the dishwasher and removing the contents of the dryer into an ever growing pile that I’m sure will never be put away. After trying to finagle an over flowing garbage can outside I realized that we didn’t put the garbage on the curb today either, which means that all those diapers I’ve been throwing out the last week get to stay in our driveway for an extra week. Superb. I’m sure our neighbors will also be thrilled.

Then it was time to get “samiches.” This was the only thing that went right.

After eating lunch and playing more play doh and watching Inside Out for the umpteenth time since the holidays, and carrying a kicking and screaming Olive to bed for a nap, I decided a nap was a better idea than my original plan to work out. Except of course Willow had other plans. And then by the time Willow went down Olive was screaming again.

Ok, so no nap, but I can still squeeze in a Zumba workout! I’ll just let Olive play in the living room while Willow sleeps and I’ll work out this stress and frustration and get the endorphins flowing. I just knew it would turn my day around.

It became clear a half hour later when I couldn’t find my other shoe (I only own one pair of athleticesque shoes and apparently now I may only own half a pair). What can you do at that point but begin whimpering  at the stupid Zumba menu that was clearly taunting me with its sexy Latino reggae drums or maracas or whatever the hell it is?  I don’t need your damn come hither beat, Zumba a** holes. I seriously considered trying to Dirty Dancing this workout in stilettos, but realized that could only end in shattered ankles. I finally had to mute it, but I was too sad to turn it off. Part of me wanted to buy a new pair of shoes, part of me wanted to cry, and another part of me wanted to hide in the bathroom with the last ice cream sandwich and a glass of wine.

But I didn’t. I wrote this instead. Because some days are really hard and sometimes it’s difficult to just get started. Whether it’s because the task just seems too daunting or because you don’t have a shoe for the other foot.

Besides, tomorrow is a new day filled with twenty four more hours and opportunities to tackle that laundry. Get out of the house. And find that damn shoe.

 

SS Ashley Makes Berth

So today marks three more weeks left of my pregnancy before C-Day! I have some minor apprehensions about undergoing surgery again, especially knowing I will have a long healing process ahead of me. I am lucky though as my Dad will be flying out for three whole weeks to help us and I have been spending the last few months preparing for it, so I’m about as ready as I can be. I know what to expect this time around both during the surgery and afterwards. In order to both give me something to look forward to (apart from our baby, that is a given!) I’ve started thinking of all the wonderful things I will be able to do once I’m no longer pregnant.

1. I want to see my feet. They’re down there I’ve been told. But I can’t paint my toes. Or reach them (but I couldn’t really touch my toes before my pregnancy so that’s not really a big loss). It’s not really a priority honestly, but that seems like the obvious one.

2. I want to drink wine again. I miss it. Let’s be honest, this is really #1 but I didn’t want to seem too eager. I’ve spent the last two weeks slowly but surely restocking my wine rack from Costco and Bevmo’s 5 cent wine sale. I’m also really tired of the nasty awkward looks I get when I buy wine at eight months pregnant. I’m not drinking it now, people!

3. I’m quite tired of the judgey looks I get from people in general while pregnant. Yes, I’m drinking coffee. The wine in my cart is for cooking, not drinking. Yes, I’m having another child and my daughter’s only two. Yes, I can carry my own gallon of milk, but thanks for checking. No, I’m not having a boy. Yes, I can have cold medicine. No, you can’t touch my belly.

4. I want to be able to wear pants again that don’t look like I borrowed them from Comic Book Guy from “The Simpsons” and be able to wear one or two tank tops without my belly button popping out through the shirt. Or have to deal with the fact that my shirts don’t always cover my stomach, unbeknownst to me and I’ve been walking around not only with coffee stains down my front (because I only own three shirts that WILL cover my belly and they all have stains on them at this point) but with my lower belly hanging out. Pretty sure I’m on peopleofwalmart.com now.

5. I’m kind of a coffee person in the morning. Like the kind of coffee person that makes a cup, drinks it for an hour, then makes a second cup, and if I’m having a really bad day I pretend that I didn’t have half a cup after that. I’m tired of calculating how many milligrams of caffeine I’ve had during the day to try to figure out if I have to forego an afternoon glass of icy cold diet pepsi….mmm…

6. I know this will take awhile, but I can’t wait to be able to do back-to-back errands, take my kids to the park, go to the zoo, tackle a household to do list without having to take a couch break after an hour or give up and go home because cleaning the toilet AND  carrying Olive from the car to the driveway is too damn taxing. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good vegging out session with a glass of something cold, some chip dip, and my DVR, but I don’t like to be forced to be a couch potato. If it becomes a necessity I become resentful. And I eat too much chip dip.

7. For some reason both Blue and Olive seem to understand that I am severely physically limited. This means that Olive thinks its hilarious to wait for me to take off her diaper and then run away from me giggling and continue in a “keep-away” game and watch me waddle after her. Blue thinks this is equally fun, but he’ll grab a toy or piece of trash and then wait for me to get within two inches of his mouth and then gallop away to another part of the house.

Whatever. Eat your garbage. Don’t wear a diaper. I don’t care. If I’m lucky, maybe Blue will eat the toddler poo later. I may have used this tactic already earlier this week when the cat vomited on the floor. I waited for the cat to eat it later and when he didn’t, I just let the dog in. Its called working smarter, not harder.

8. I love my pregnancy pillow, it’s large and envelopes me at night like a super comfy boyfriend pillow. I think my husband would remind me that I shouldn’t need a boyfriend pillow when I have a husband but that’s beside the point. It takes up far too much of the bed (two thirds of a queen size bed) and I’m sure Matt will be glad to see it go.

9. I would like to be able to not have to pee every ten minutes. I almost peed my pants yesterday, because Blue blocked my entrance into the hallway and refused to move out of the way so I could open the baby gate to go use the bathroom. I’m also too pregnant to be able to physically move the dog myself (actually I’m too small to do this even when I’m not pregnant). He literally had me trapped in the living room with no way to get past him. I may have gained twenty pounds, but those twenty pounds are currently resting on my bladder  and Blue still has forty-five pounds on me on a good day. On a bad day he has more. He was upset because he thought I was going to leave him in the living room alone for the rest of the night, but he didn’t understand when I explained I just needed to pee. I almost started crying. It was super embarrassing. I finally had to grab treats and chuck them into the living room and then make a run for it. I felt like Sam Neill in Jurassic Park when he throws the flares over the bridge to distract the T-Rex. I also sort of felt like the lawyer on the porta potty who later gets eaten by the T-Rex. I was that desperate.

10. I know its supposed to be a good thing when the baby is moving and its supposed to be this magical experience feeling the baby kick. I realize I’m not going to get the “Mother of the Year” award for admitting this, but I’m over it. I’d like to be able to eat a handful of Skittles or try to take a nap without getting jabbed, kicked and somersaulted from the inside in the ribs, spleen, and hoo haw. And after five months of it I literally feel like Sigourney Weaver in “Alien.” Like at any moment a hand or foot (or for all I know an alien head) is going to pop its way out of my stomach, probably demanding more Skittles. If that happens, is it still considered a “natural birth”?

11. I’m tired of being a vessel. Some women love being pregnant and relish the whole experience. Their body is this mystical vessel and they are growing new life inside of them. I just want my body back. And I don’t mean because its swim suit season. I want to be able to do all the things I did before I was pregnant without having to worry about whether its OK for the baby. It sounds bad and selfish, but its true. I don’t want to be a vessel anymore. I’m not a vase or a boat. I’m a person.

I know I have plenty of other awesome things to look forward to once I’m not pregnant anymore. Like having two kids, instead of one. Being a family of four, instead of three. Olive will get to be a big sister. But I also like to find joy and purpose in life’s little things too. Like a couch, a glass of Francis Coppola, a nice spread of goat cheese, and a full DVR queue waiting for Matt and I after the kids go to sleep. And that’s kind of hard to do when I’m also a vessel.

Threenagers, Caramel Caribou, and Bunny Poop

You know that moment when you’ve finally put your kids down for the night and you get out your half gallon of caramel caribou ice cream, plant yourself on the couch, and start eating directly out of the container? And then you know that moment afterwards when your dog, who is sitting in front of the couch dips his head fully into the container, which you’ve tried (unsuccessfully) to hold out of his reach and starts to help himself?

No? Only I’m faced with these kinds of dilemmas?

I tried to swat him away and explain to him that I would let him lick the spoon with some ice cream on it if he would wait his turn, but his response was to head butt me with his open mouth directly into my baby bump (gently, but it was still mean). Its like he was saying, “Mom you’re getting fat. You don’t need ice cream. Plus you’re eating it directly out of the bucket and that’s just sad.”

What’s really sad is that after I put him in a time out in his crate for nipping me (and calling me fat), I continued to eat the ice cream even though he face planted into it. If I didn’t, it would mean the dog had won. At least, that’s how I’m justifying it.

Mom, I don't know how to tell you this, but you should probably lay off the ice cream. Put the bucket down and walk away...
Mom, I don’t know how to tell you this, but you should probably lay off the ice cream. Put the bucket down and walk away…

I also didn’t get much sleep last night, not because Olive kept me up or I was tossing and turning from pregnancy back pain and heart burn (which has been pretty normal these days), but because Blue started howling in the living room and wouldn’t stop. When Blue starts barking, its hard not to pee your pants a little. Because not only does he resemble a bigger, darker version of Hooch from “Turner and Hooch” (and sounds like him too), but you can’t help but automatically assume there is a serial killer breaking into your house at that very moment. So of course, I throw off the covers, flip on all the lights and come waddling into the living room at one a.m. on full alert.

“Blue, what’s wrong buddy?” I ask him.

He tilts his head and pouts in pure puppy fashion and then just stares up at me. When I don’t reply (because I can’t read dog minds), he starts in on his low growl and rushes for the back door and starts what I like to call the “slow bark.” I walk towards the sliding glass door where he is staring into the dark, awaiting what I can only assume are the vampires from “30 Days of Night” or the zombie apocolypse.

They were bunnies.

I patted Blue on the head and reminded him that while I understand he doesn’t like bunnies pooping in his yard, this was not on the prerequisite list of “howling in the middle of the night” type of emergencies. And of course after all that excitement, I just couldn’t fall asleep.

I understand he takes his job as protector and guard dog very seriously at night, but during the day he really has become quite the threenager and Olive has been protesting his righteous attitude more and more. It used to be that as long as we put all of her toys away and out of reach her things were safe. And by “out of reach,” I of course mean in other rooms behind closed doors, there’s really no such thing as out of reach when you own a giant breed. I witnessed him pull out her toy bin from the coffee table shelf drop his head and pull out what turned out to be a princess toy mirror and start chewing. I rescued the toy, but it was not unscathed. There’s nothing more sad than watching your two year old clutch what used to be something not covered in tooth marks and dog drool and start whimpering. Normally, I would remind her that’s why we don’t leave toys out, but the trollop actually got the toy out of the toy bin.

It probably doesn’t help that she sees me constantly telling him to “Leave it” and “No” so she mainly follows him around the house and confrontationally points her finger at him (regardless of what he is doing) and yells “No, Boo! No!” I have to remind her that we don’t yell at him when he’s not actually doing anything wrong, but its sort of hard not to chuckle at her audacity considering that he outweighs her by 140 lbs.

I had so hoped that since we have basically been raising them together they would love each other. And they do. Like two siblings that can’t stand each other now but will be inseparable in their 20’s. Olive is just tired of being accidentally knocked over or sat on, being constantly doused in dog drool, and having her diaper chewed on while she’s still wearing it. And Blue is tired of having blankets stolen from him, getting sidearmed when he’s trying to give her kisses, and being yelled at in toddler tongues.

And I just want to be able to sit on the damn couch and eat my damn ice cream without someone simultaneously licking out the canister, drooling on my maternity wear, and blocking my view of the TV.

"Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized." Margaret Atwood
“Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.”
Margaret Atwood

The Pole that Got Away

Its been awhile since I’ve written. I blame it on a lot of things…I bit off more than I could chew in terms of projects. I live in a crazy house with a crazy dog and a crazy toddler and a crazy (and absent husband) and more than likely a crazy baby that will be joining us in July.

So there’s a lot of crazy up in here. You get the picture

Toliet Baby
“So I climb in the toilet? Then what?”

For those that know me well, I’m not the most coordinated person. In fact if there was a clumsy contest I would nail it and bring home whatever prize they give for those who cannot be trusted to look in the direction they are walking or not trip on thin air.

This time there was more than air I was up against. I had a particularly harrowing incident involving a pole. Was my car totaled you ask?

No. Because I was not in the car. I was on foot.

I was taking Olive to a hearing appointment at the Balboa Naval Hospital which involves parking in a super big structure and either packing Olive into her stroller or huffing it with her in tow. Frankly, I would rather give our feral cat a bath than try to coax Olive into staying in the stroller for the duration of the walk to the hospital. Although I refuse to admit it, I’ve become far too pregnant to carry Olive for the amount of time required to get her from the parking lot to the doctor’s office.  But when I let her walk, the old disabled vets are literally hobbling past us muttering at us for blocking all of the sidewalk. So on this particular occasion, I opted to carry her on my hip and carry my diaper bag across my shoulder. Which was fine, until it wasn’t.

As we were approaching the medical buildings, I realized that for this particular appointment I had no idea where I needed to go. All of my other appointments had been for her pediatrician and this one was with audiology. And on this fateful morning, I forgot my cell at home which meant I couldn’t call and find out where I needed to be. I decided I would just start scanning directional signage until I found it and if that failed I would just walk into one of the buildings and ask.

Just as I was trying to decide how long I would walk aimlessly, the decision was made for me when I catapulted into a median pole. You know, those pesky little guys that are meant to keep vehicles from driving up onto pedestrian walkways (that are also just low enough to not be visible over a baby bump? I mean lets be honest, I can’t see anything  below my naval, so that’s like half the horizon directly in front of me that is just a big ole fat blind spot).

Now had I not been seven months pregnant and carrying a toddler it wouldn’t have been a big deal (and probably wouldn’t have happened). It probably would’ve been a really embarrassing crotch shot, but I would’ve walked it off. But because my center of gravity is already a “smidgen” off and I had both my hands full, when I came into contact with said pole I not only took the brunt of it to the underside of my abdomen (don’t worry, your unborn child will cushion the blow), but I went up over the side of the pole arms and legs flailing like the most epic failed attempt at pole vaulting (apparently I was right to never try out for track and field in high school, I can only assume this would’ve ended much the same).

This was one of those moments where time just seems to slow down and I realized several things simultaneously:

1. I’m going to hit the pavement shortly.

2. If I’m not careful, I’m going to land on both my toddler and my unborn child at the same time.

3. This is going to hurt.

4. I hope no one is watching.

I didn’t have enough control over the situation to avoid falling, but I had just enough control over the situation to see that if I didn’t correct my positioning, Olive was going to land on her head (she was facing head first on the way down to my utter horror) and I would end up falling on top of her. I moved my body just enough so she landed on her back on the diaper bag and I landed on my knee (there goes my career in figure skating and pole vaulting all in the same day).

As I’m sitting on the pavement looking a lot like this:

Maybe no one noticed...
Maybe no one noticed…

My first thought was….Oh gosh, I hope no one saw that…

It turns out though if you somersault over a pole carrying what looks like a bowling ball and a small child in front of an emergency room, people tend to notice. The good thing is that most of them will be medical personnel that will insist that you sit in a wheel chair as they cart you off to labor and delivery. Because you are obviously pregnant. And obviously an idiot. Thus you need to be monitored.

Part of the problem with the digital age of cell phones and saved contacts is that no one bothers to memorize numbers anymore. And I didn’t have my cell phone thus the only person I could call was my husband’s cell which he doesn’t take into work with him. I figured it would be OK, they would monitor the baby for half an hour and barring any complications we would be released. That was when the nurse informed me that in cases of a fall (I suddenly felt like the star of a sad Lifetime movie, where the pregnant heroine is pushed down a flight of stairs, by some evil baby daddy who turns out to have a checkered past), they keep the patient for six hours for monitoring.

I’m sorry? Six human hours?

This was the news I received while strapped to a machine, during which my toddler ran around unplugging equipment and playing with all the buttons on my hospital bed (she managed to page the nurse, unplug the baby monitor, and move my bed up and down all in the span of ten minutes).

Also the tv in the room was broken and I still had no cell phone.

I was trapped in toddler hell.

Luckily, they eventually wheeled in a phone and I eventually used the last of my brain cells to mentally recover my husband’s work number. Unfortunately I had to relay the message to someone else at the office and not wanting to alarm anyone I told him,”Can you please find my husband. I had a fall. I’m in labor and delivery. I’m Ok, but they won’t release me for awhile and I need him to take Olive.”

Unfortunately, all that was relayed to my husband was, “Your wife is in the hospital. They are monitoring her.” So when my husband came rushing into the hospital room with reinforcements (cheetos, pretzels and toddler food – somehow he knew the situation would warrant these supplies) all I had to say was, “I hit a pole” and Matt nodded, stifled a grin and sat down in the hospital chair. He was not surprised by this revelation and knew better than to ask me if I was in the car.

The other thing that happens when you have to sit in labor and delivery for six hours is that there are turnovers. And not the yummy kind with a flaky crust and cherry filling. That means three doctors and three nurses replaced each other during the time I was there and each had to be filled in on why I was there. Which means having to relay my embarrassing story of how I ran into a pole (“Wait, in your car?”) over and over again. Silver lining is that once it became clear that we were all fine and would be released in a couple hours I got to take turns making fun of myself and entertaining the medical staff who tried hard (and failed) to maintain their professional demeanor during two ultrasounds and a cervical exam.

“So did you make it to your appointment at least?”

“I made it across the parking lot. I even got here early….for the appointment, not because of the pole.”

I even got to relay my story a couple weeks later to my OB who looked down at his paperwork and did the tight lipped grin that I’m used to when doctors are trying really hard not to laugh at you (I get this a lot because my defense mechanism is usually self deprecation, even when I’m on an operating table about to go under the knife).

“Wait, you hit the pole in your car?” he asked.

“No,” I replied. “That probably would’ve been less embarrassing.”

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Good thing Daddy was there with Cheetos.

Single Serving Parenthood

Today is one of those mornings that started with such hope. Beautiful day outside and fresh coffee in the pot. I even ate a good breakfast. I had lots of plans of working on projects and getting some housework done in between playing with Olive. Maybe we would even hit up Target and go to the park afterwards.

Even though Olive woke up at 6 am, I really felt like I woke up with a sense of purpose, like I really had my turds in a row (that’s a saying right? well in this house it is).

Now that Matt is gone for eight weeks (technically six more weeks, since he’s already been gone two weeks), I really hold on to mornings when I wake up feeling like this. Because for anyone who has had to parent alone, whether its a permanent or temporary situation, you know that your strength and energy are sometimes all you have to help you. There is no five o’clock – oh good my husband/wife is home, here take this screaming child while I shower and then make dinner with a glass of wine in my hand. The only break you get is when your child goes down for the night (IF you’re that lucky), when you finally finish the load of dishes in the sink, pick up the toys, sweep and mop the floors, and take a shower. And then try not to fall asleep while you watch a show not on the Disney Channel with a glass of non-alcoholic vino if you’re lucky (and pregnant).  And then you crawl into bed, wake up and do it all over again.

Because of this, there are some days that you just don’t wake up feeling excited about the prospects of the day. You just do what you have to do to get through it. I  like to call this fake it til you make it.

For example, there was a day last week when I was stressed out and frazzled beyond the point of realizing I was not dressed appropriately to be seen by the outside world (it was hot, I’m now too pregnant to button my shorts, and too depressed to do anything about it). I had been mowing the lawn earlier (in more appropriate attire) and had accidentally left the garage door open. When I got back inside, I changed to shorts and a tank and commenced with my long list of other stuff I needed to do around the house while Olive was sleeping. Blue decided to let himself into the garage and explore the front yard and would’ve been the whole neighborhood if I hadn’t realized he was missing quickly. I hopped the baby gate to the kitchen and ran out the front door waving a bag of dog treats and cooing at my dog like he was a baby bird, begging and pleading him to come back into the house. Blue pretended like he was going to oblige and then kept high tailing it closer to the street. Luckily, I eventually did coax him back into the house, shut the door behind us and let out a long sigh of relief. And  then looked down at myself. My shorts were hanging open unbuttoned, my pregnant belly was hanging over them but was not large enough, unfortunately, to cover up the fact that my fly was wide open and my granny panties were hanging out. Helllllloooooooo neighbors!

Everyone needs to revel in the ridiculousness sometimes.

So compared to that day, I thought today was going to be lovely. Because the air smelled fresh outside, I had a to-do list ready from the day before and I was ready to cross some stuff off that bad boy.

Then Olive had a temper tantrum because she didn’t want to get into the bathtub. Which normally would roll off my back, its fine. We’ll take a bath later.

But she had marinara sauce up her nose and in her hair from the night before and frankly, my back hurt too much last night to deal with getting her safely in and out of the tub. So a bath, she must have.

After a short time-out and a bath in which she seemed to enjoy splashing and playing, I decided maybe we would spend some time playing and folding laundry. But then Olive caught sight of my new bluetooth keyboard which she absolutely had to have.

And so ensued temper tantrum number two. I put her back in her crib and cleaned the bathrooms. At least one of us is being productive.  I’m hoping with all this turmoil, it means when she does go down in a couple hours, she will go down for a long time and I can work on my said projects.

Which brings me to projects (yes, my segue is not subtle).  My plan to help keep my mind off Matt being gone, to keep me busy and spending the time focused and with purpose, I planned a series of projects.

1. Throw myself a birthday party. This actually already happened. It was last weekened. There weren’t really any pictures, but I did spend two weeks getting the house ready for it. Which was a good idea as it turned out because I wasn’t particularly motivated to finish unpacking the house or keeping it clean. Plus, Olive and I both enjoyed seeing all of our friends and sharing good food (it was a potluck brunch).

2. Clean out the garage. This is the project that is turning into the bane of my existence. Every time I open the back door to the garage, I get nauseous. There is so much stuff in there in garbage bags, heaped in piles and in boxes. My plan over the next two weeks is to go through it, donate as much as possible and organize the rest of it with shelving and storage. There will be before and after pictures I’m sure. Stay tuned.

3. Transition Olive to big girl bed. This wouldn’t be such a big priority, except we need the crib in August and we need to set it up sooner rather than later in case he is gone right before and during the delivery. But I found one from Ikea that we are planning to purchase. I just need to buy it, assemble it, unassemble the crib and move the crib parts to the nursery so Matt can reassemble it when he gets home.

4. Big girl bed spread. So I’ve looked into these and I think its rather ridiculous that for nice little girl bedding I’m expected to pay almost the same that I did for my own adult queen sized bedding. Really? I’ve decided the better thing to do is to make my own quilt. I’ve been quilting for a few years so its not that cumbersome in theory, but the fact that I decided to do it in six weeks and my sewing machine is on its last leg and all my quilting supplies are half buried in the garage should add an element of challenge. Pictures and posts to come on this one.

I do have some other fun projects and ideas of things I want to accomplish while Matt is gone but these are the big ones.

So even though it sucks having to be apart from my spouse and having to be a single parent while he’s gone there are many silver linings. Firstly, I’m not a permanent single parent. I know that there are lots of folks who do it everyday and have little to no support and I know my plight is not the same. Lastly, I try to look at the bright side of this situation. I can buy a half gallon of ice cream and eat it directly out of the container. I can read my book in bed late at night, snuggled in my pregnancy pillow that takes up 2/3 of our queen sized bed. I can watch chick flicks after Olive goes down and never have to share the tv for video games, horror movies, or Sons of Anarchy. I can eat pizza rolls for dinner.

Small victories.

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Don’t worry little romper stomper, Daddy will be home soon.