Saturday, March 28, 2009

cosmic humor

Well, it's some kind of cruel joke, but we're still dealing with illness around here. Stomach for Frances and Mitch, and I'm on my second round of antibiotics. I still can't hear much except for my pulse in my head. The other day Frances was talking on her pretend cell phone and I heard her say, "Hi Susie! How are you? I'm fine. What? What? What? What? What? What? What?" I wonder where she's heard that.

At night I lie in bed and chant to myself: we will be well again one day, we will be well again one day. I'll feel well and sleep at night and be able to hear my husband when he speaks to me. I'll have energy and go to the gym and my kids will do more than cry all the time. I'll find joy in living. One day.

Friday, March 27, 2009

a night away

We spent a night at a hotel and spa, Mitch and I. Just us, no kids. Oh my goodness was it fabulous. WAY better than I could have imagined, way overdue, so wonderful and relaxing and why haven't we done this before? It was on one of the fingerlakes, a quaint little town with park benches and coffee shops and boutiques and stately old buildings. And the spa! It's hard to justify the price of a massage somehow, but we did sit in the hot tub outside, which is really a winding pool built of rock with a waterfall, and we did soak our feet in the foot pool while sitting in our luxurious soft robes in the low lighting, zen music tinkling in the background. We sat in the euciliptis steam room and we lounged in our cottage in front of the fire. And we ate dinner. What a dinner! That was our big splurge, rather than the spa treatments (I really wanted a body scrub, I have to say). Five courses with "gifts from the chef" between courses, which turned out to be courses themselves, so nine courses in all, and then we had to go walk in the wind by the lake in order to digest a little.

Friday, March 20, 2009

over yet?

Oh My God. I feel like all I'm doing these days is complaining, but oh my god. I need a support group.

I'm on my 4th day of antibiotics and today is the first day I've been able to be out of bed for more than an hour, so that's good. But Mitch went to the doctor today with what turns out to be bronchitis, Clark is on antibiotics for a sinus infection, and I still can't hear anything. Several times now I've picked up the phone when it wasn't ringing and I keep having to ask poor Mitch, who already barely has the energy to moan, to speak louder. (I also hear a faint symphony...) Last night Clark was up from 3-6am, just up, feeling crummy. I finally brought him downstairs and let him play and cry and play until the sky started getting light. Mitch let me sleep until 8, thank heavens.

Mitch's folks were supposed to be here tomorrow and were going to stay with the kids next week as we went to Lake Placid for a little ski vacation, the first time we've been away from Clark. And of course the hotel has a completely inflexible no return policy printed very plainly on our confirmation. When I called today though, the person at the front desk was very gracious and helpful and said they usually don't but would under the circumstances credit us for another stay with them. Whew. Before that I was just hoping Mitch would be well enough by then to drive and we would hang out at the spa rather than on the hill, but instead we're going to wait. His folks will come on Monday and maybe everyone will be well enough for us to go somewhere closer for an overnight.

All I can figure is that I got so sick because I was already depleted from the stomach flu and then was up with Clark all night every night while he was so sick, so this cough that turned into nothing in Frances just raged in me. I guess in Mitch too, because it seemed to start out as the same thing and has now landed in his lungs. Clark--well, we know why he's got it bad. He's barely had any calories in him with which to fight.

In any case, I'm tired. I don't really remember what life was like before Clark started throwing up 2 weeks ago, but I have a vague sense that I was enjoying it. Ah, one day I'll look back on this and it will be just a story to tell. As for the support group comment, feel free to leave comments here on the blog! I do miss my Durham support group.... as well as all you far away friends out there.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

full cup

I almost want to delete that last post, it's so gloomy and indulgent. I guess I needed to write it, get it out, but that doesn't mean I had to post it on my blog... It raises the question of what is a blog and what is it for. Is it journaling? Is it communication? Is it mind dump? Definitely not that. Generally I think of it as communication, a way of exploring issues and sharing thoughts without actually talking. Perhaps I was just too sick to keep that in mind. We'll chalk it up to the illness.

So it's been nearly 2 weeks since Clark first got sick, since I've been either dealing with a sick baby or sick myself. What that means is it's also that long since Frances has had much of my attention. She's dealt with it pretty well. I was thinking my mom's being here would help since she would get undivided attention from her, but the first couple days Frances was still acting needy, pulling the dog's ears, running away at bedtime, being cantankerous. Then my mom got the lovely stomach bug we were so generous to share and spent a lot of the next afternoon in bed. At the same time, Clark had a long afternoon nap and Frances and I were free to spend some time together outside in the sun.

Oh, spring here is a relief, such a relief. I enjoyed the snow and actually wanted one more big storm, but let me tell you that sunny 50 degrees is just delicious. Frances and I took a walk. We colored with sidewalk chalk. We rode her tricycle, visited the neighbors, had a great time. And I realized: it's not just undivided attention she needs, it's undivided attention from me. This didn't used to be the case. When I was working she could have her cup filled by her dad or grandmother or Carol as easily as me; but now that I'm home with her it's me she needs. That same morning Mitch had played play dough with her for a long time, but it wasn't enough to fill her up.

As soon as we got outside in the quiet of just ourselves, I knew this was what she needs. Funny I didn't know it before. When grandparents come to visit I usually step back to give them space to be and play with the kids, and perhaps to give myself a break too. But maybe even when they're here I need to set aside some time to be alone with her.

That night bedtime was much less eventful--less bargaining, fewer delay tactics, no tantrums--because she wasn't going to bed still needy. What a great thing to learn, and such an easy fix to implement.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

sick doesn't describe it.

I am so sick. Really really sick. I almost don't know if there's any point in my talking about it. (but here I go...) At different times in high school I had pneumonia and strep throat, but since then I can't remember being this sick. After the stomach flu stuff (btw, Clark threw up as recently as this afternoon... I almost wonder if the illness made him lactose intolerant or something. He seems to be fine unless he has any formula or milk, as little as a couple of sips) I got Frances's cough and then a stuffy nose, and then I spent all day Sunday and Monday in bed. I thought I was going to be able to rest it off, but then all of a sudden I woke Monday night in the night so sick, so much pain in my ears that I couldn't sleep. I called the doctor the next morning but they couldn't see me until that afternoon. It just got worse and worse, and while I waited in the office I paced and cried because of the pain (the doctor took forever getting there. I finally went out into the hallway to find out what the hell).

Double ear infection plus sinus infection. ("Oh my!" he said, "Yup, that's a raging ear infection.")

What adults get ear infections?? I thought the antibiotics would work right away but it's taking time... I can't hear anything but loud white noise and I feel nauseated all the time, probably because my equalibrium is off. My ribs hurt from coughing, my legs ache, my head aches, and I'm dizzy and exhausted when I stand up. The pain in my ears last night was tremendous (really really astonishing pain) and my fever was over 102 but today it's better. My mom was here, you know, which meant she got to hang out with the kids while I slept. I more or less haven't seen the kids in days. I just took my mom to the airport a little bit ago and now the sitter is outside pulling the kids in the wagon. I probably won't see them before bed.

Okay, typing this has worn me out and I'm going to close my eyes again.
I want to write about my not seeing Clark and how he doesn't now want to look at me, how he turns away from me, angry that I've been so absent. But I can't right now.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

enduring chaos

Dear god I'm getting sick again, the cough-nose-sore throat-achy kind, right on the heels of the stomach flu plus Clark's illness which by the way he's still not over. He's thrown up as recently as Friday morning which makes it 5 whole days of no solid food and the poor guy is too weak to even walk. It's 5 am and I've been up with him twice and now I just can't sleep because of the stuffiness and general crappy crap and I think I'm going to hang myself.

My mom is here for a few days thank the heavens because I've got to get some sleep or at least lie on my bed and read a book or I'll lose my mind. At first carrying Clark around was sweet but now it's just exhausting. Poor Frances has had a rough week--having to be so patient and she getting so little attention as I strip and bathe and reclothe Clark and mop up vomit and mix sugar into water and hold the crying baby oh my god. She's really over it all and is letting us know. She's excited about seeing my mom, and now she'll get some undivided attention which will be great.

Yesterday afternoon my mom and I took Frances to the birthday party of one of the little girls in her preschool class while Mitch stayed home w/ Clark. It was at this place called Jump Club which has those big inflatible moon bounce things plus lots of screaming kids and germs and general chaos. This was the second party we'd been to like this and I was not particularly excited about it. When we got there my mom said, "oh, I see why you were moaning about this." These things are so weird to me--these parties. I just don't get them. After playing for awhile on the moon bounce we all pile into this tiny room, kids and baby siblings and parents with flashing cameras and the staff pouring sprite into paper cups, and the kids sit at these little tables set with princess plates and napkins and party hats while the adults line the edges of the room. There is pizza that Frances eats none of, and then at this particular party there were cupcakes plus pink princess cake plus heart shaped sunglasses plus party favor bags with candy PLUS a pinata. I started to tell her she couldn't have any candy because she'd just had a cupcake (well, the frosting and some of the cupcake) as well as gross strawberry princess cake, but then I thought what the hell. We got home at 5 pm, just in time to fix some dinner and ineffectively coerce her to sit at the table and eat some of it. (meaning: sit at the table with our dinner and holler at her to come eat something while she chased the dog.) She was a complete lunatic. She's never having sugar again.

I swear I'll never throw one of those parties. My kids will think I spoil all their fun but they can just share in others' birthday experiences at those places. We'll see if I go back on this...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Interesting turn of events for the I-want-my-baby-back blues

Clark got sick. Seriously seriously ill. Monday when he woke up from his nap he cried at first but then sounded through the monitor like he was playing in his crib, so I let him. Now and then he'd cry for a moment and then go back to awake baby sounds and after about 30 minutes I went to get him. What I found was that he'd thrown up everywhere (really--everywhere) and I suppose that's what he'd been playing in. Frances was hollering in her own crib by this time so I started the bath and ran in to tell her Clark was sick and she was just going to have to hang out and wait for a while. I stripped Clark and put him in the bath, piled up his clothes and sheet and blanket and stuffed bear for the wash, got Frances out of her bed and parked her on the sofa in front of the TV, and charged back upstairs to be sure Clark was not drowning in the tub. I was certain he'd throw up again as soon as I had him dressed so I kept him in the tub a long time and kept warming the water for him.

That was around 3. The rest of the afternoon he didn't want to be put down so I carried him in the sling while I got Frances her dinner and straightened up around the house. He snuggled down against me with his thumb in his mouth and it really was a sort of salve for the mourning I'd been doing. Oh, sweet baby needing his mama. He was still throwing up every once in a while and I'd just go to the sink and lean him over--because he was up against me I could feel his stomach heave and tell it was coming.

The next morning I gave him a tiny bit of applesauce with rice cereal and he kept that down, then he went to sleep. He was sleeping so hard but near noon it was time for me to get Frances from school so I woke him. I tried to give him a little more applesauce but he turned away, though he drank some watered down juice. I was literally getting him in his jacket to walk out the door when he threw up all over me. It was 10 minutes before I was supposed to pick up F and I was momentarily struck immobile. What to do? I thought of calling a neighbor but I couldn't ask someone to come watch a vomiting baby while I ran to school. I called my friend whose daughter is in Frances' class. I had to call the school to authorize her to bring Frances home, then she had to come get the carseat and rush over to the school. These people charge you if you're late.

Anyway, all that is more information than you want. By that afternoon Clark had a fever of 103 and all we did was sit in the rocker. When he'd get very fussy I'd put on Baby Einstein (which is oh so soothing) and we'd rock. When Frances woke from her nap she pulled her little rocker up next to mine and rocked her baby too while we all watched TV. I was thrown up on a couple more times and did more loads of laundry and of course having a sick baby is the pits, but it also was wonderful. I carried him and held him and rocked him and he snuggled. Frances is amazingly patient about Clark--if I tell her "I can't now, honey, I have to take care of Clark," she does not protest. She's always been that way about him.

Then Tuesday night I was up half the night experiencing the joy first hand. Of course Mitch had a presentation to the faculty at noon on Wednesday plus his class from 6-9 so couldn't stay home to help. Usually I have a sitter here Wednesday evenings but I called her to cancel like a decent human being. It was a rough day: Clark's fever still above 101, my upset stomach and fever and general achy-ness (plus my period, let's not forget), everyone in their pjs all day, but Frances was oddly cooperative and entertained herself pretty well. There was also a lot of TV. She'd say "sure!" when I asked her to bring me the remote or the thermometer. At one point I was dozing in the tent (which is beside the play kitchen in the dining room, filled with blankets and pillows and stuffed animals) and now and then felt a spoon on my lips as she fed me something she'd cooked on her little stove.

Today is Thursday and I'm aware this is much more detail than anyone needs about my life but somehow I'm compelled to write it all. It was a full experience for me, a going into a different kind of space for awhile, a little vacation from my regular life. It was time just sitting with my children, no chores (except for several loads of laundry at the outset), no errands, no one around but us. Us alone, together, in full physical contact. There was an unexpected joy in it all, though yesterday was really hard.

I don't think Clark even touched the ground until this morning. He still hasn't walked--doesn't have the energy--and crawls slowly when he wants to go somewhere. Mostly he just sits and watches with his tired eyes. I'm still using tylenol to keep his fever down, but he'll get his energy back soon and be a toddler again. I think I'll be more okay with it now.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

change is hard

What to do when one starts walking and weens and turns one all at once? Take refuge in a teddy bear, I suppose. Clark's never had an attachment to a stuffed animal or blanket or anything, and suddenly he's got both. It's very sweet. The bear was given to him by his babysitter which I think is relevant because he loves her so much. It's a white bear. White. Which it probably won't be for long... It's funny to me that he's sort of out of the blue attached to the bear and the blanket also (light blue, satin trimmed) but M pointed out that until recently he had the boob for comfort.

I'm sad about the weening. I had thought I might nurse him a while longer, a few more months, a walking nursing baby. I was pretty sure I didn't want to nurse a talking toddler though I have friends who have done that. But it doesn't seem my style. Still, I wasn't quite ready for it to be over. When we were in Michigan last week and Clark clearly didn't want to nurse anymore I felt I should have some sort of ritual to mark the end, but I couldn't think of what.

Today is his birthday. I'm having trouble with this one and I wish we'd planned a party for today. My mom's coming next week and we thought we'd have a little celebration then (it's not like the kids know the difference...) but I think it would have done me good to have something today--something to mark the year's passing, to note that he's not just one but as of last week also walking and weened. How did that happen all at once? Today at the gym I chatted with someone and when I told her it was Clark's birthday I started crying right there between the elliptical machines and the stair-steppers. Embarrassing. I've been crying for the past few days, in fact, and I didn't know why I was depressed and emotional. Guess what? Not only is today Clark's first birthday, but just tonight I started my period. You may be wondering why that's noteworthy, and it's because this is the first period I've had in THREE AND A HALF YEARS. I'm serious. And sad it's back. *sigh* A year after giving birth, and something else to mark the occasion.

The past few emotional days I've been wanting another baby. I've always wanted another, I suppose, and now that Clark's turning into a little person it's coming on strong. Still, I don't know if it's a good idea for us. As I've said before, if family were near things might be different. Alas.

In other news, I got a new laptop! Which means I'll probably be posting more regularly now... Off to straighten up the crazy mess that is kids in the house.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Did I say that things were going exceptionally well? (see previous post...) It was just a moment, a fluke, a respite before regular life returned. Oh i'm cynical and depressed. Hopefully that's the fluke and things will improve again, and maybe this time for a longer period. Anyway.

It's 5:30 am and I've been up with Clark pretty much since 3. The first time I tried to rock and soothe him w/out feeding him. 2nd time I gave him tylenol and rocked him again. 3rd time I fed him a bottle (have I said we've weaned? I had started giving him a bottle in the evening and in the night so other people would be able to stay w/ him and let us go away for much needed alone time, and then my supply started dropping. I tried to bring it up, but Clark didn't really want to nurse anymore, so it just kept dropping. I'm a little sad about it, conflicted I guess. Perhaps more about that later.), and between these I was letting him cry for a short time. Eventually Mitch asked if he should try and I said I didn't care if we just let him cry, but Mitch went in and after that he was quiet for a whole 15 minutes. Then I just said screw it and got up.

The night before last he was up but only once in the night and yesterday I woke in a funk. I almost felt like I was stoned most of the day. I don't know if it was just the one night of broken sleep or what. I haven't had any social contact this week at all, and there's no doubt I do much better when i'm getting social contact, with or without the kids. So back to depressed. I've been lying in bed since 3 (between getting up times, of course) thinking about how I'm not happy in my marriage. Which, btw, I pretty much haven't thought for the 6 years I've been married, so I can only surmise that the majority of that thought comes from the depression. Whenever I have a twinge of depression I think "oh shit oh shit here it comes again." It's hard so just let it come and trust that it will eventually go.

Thankfully the boy can play exceptionally well by himself so at this moment I don't have to entertain.

About that: I've been feeling guilty lately (perhaps more of the depression) that Frances got so much direct uninterrupted attention at this age and Clark gets the grand experience of navigating this world (or at least the family room) on his own. Not only did she get more attention from me, but her sitter Carol loved her better than perhaps anyone could. Carol was ideal in her interactions, her focused attention, the pure love she gave Frances. I really truly don't think I can love her as well. As much, yes, but not as well. I wish Clark could experience it. I also am sad for Frances that she no longer has that in her life. Last night I was singing her a song and one of the lines is, "if they gave me a treasure my pleasure would be small, I could lose it all tomorrow and never mind at all, but if I should lose your love dear I don't know what i'd do, for I know i'll never find another you." She always stops me here and asks about "why he lose treasure?" (interesting she assumes a male narrator...) and I try to explain that he didn't actually lose it, but if he did then it would be okay because he has love and love is more important than treasure. She wanted to know "why he love" and that was a hard one to explain but I did my best and finally came around to "who do you love? You love Carol, don't you," to which she said, "I lose my Carol," and I thought my heart would break.

Going to go play with him to ease some of the lack-of-attention guilt. Frances and the sun will be up soon.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I keep starting posts and then abandoning them, so this will probably be short. For one thing, my laptop died and the desktop is painfully slow and besides, it turns out it's much harder to getting around to writing when you don't have a choice about where to sit. Then we went to Michigan for Mitch's dad's 70th b-day which was nice but also tiring because 2 kids 2 and under in a car for 7 hours really tries my good will. I wish that weren't the case.

I'm in such a damn good spot. I know I said this a couple of posts ago but there certainly was no reason to think it would remain. It has! I'm giving full and total credit to the sleep. It's possible it's all the sleep, every frustration about parenting that I was having. Suddenly I'm having FUN, can you believe??? Frances and I are getting along, Clark is adorable, and I feel great. Also, they are both at good enjoyable stages. Frances is helpful and cheerful (for the most part) and accommodating, and Clark is walking and happy and understanding a lot of what I say. He's made a huge cognitive leap in the last couple of weeks and now I can say, "it's time to get in your chair for your lunch," and he walks to his chair and lifts his leg like he's going to climb up. I can say, "can you sit down?" and he bends his legs to a crouch, then sits. There's still not a lot of agreement about "I have to change your diaper," as he screams and flips over and tries frantically to crawl away. In time.

Man is he cute walking. He's becoming a little person rather than a baby. Makes me sad. I suppose this is the reason siblings are usually about 2 years apart... I'm just now getting that yearning for having my baby back. I don't know that that will change our minds, however. Will see.