Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Conclusion: I'd Like to Return These Babies Please


Despite my mood and all my struggles, I forced myself to attend the Mothers of Multiples Club meetings monthly.  The social worker in me approached the president of the club as well as the support group facilitator.  "There are over 300 women -- many of whom have multiples due to infertility treatments -- and I wonder if there are any others struggling with postpartum mood issues.  There has to be..."

The president said that was a good idea....

And then she e-mailed me her story....  Her fall into postpartum depression.

And then another woman emailed me her story....

And then another woman shared the dark secret of the mom of baby twins who was found dead.  Suicide.

My heart broke.  No one was there for that woman...and now her twins are without her.  Forever.

And I got mad...that she struggled alone, that she felt she had no where to go, that her babies were alone, that mental health issues in 2006 were STILL taboo...something to be kept secret...ashamed of. 

Approximately 15-20% of women experience a postpartum mood disorder...but OB's don't typically screen for it.  Little, if any education is provided.  I was a mental health professional, knew what I was talking about and still I struggled to get my OB to help  me.   

Fighting Mad

I saw my PCP and got different meds. The zoloft was not working.  Switching to prozac, I joined a support group for moms with postpartum depression.  It was run by a therapist.  I saw my own therapist a few times.

Dave started taking the babies for the first half of the night so that I could get five solid hours of sleep.  

I started writing information sheets on postpartum depression and these were shared with the Moms of Multiples.

With the president of the MOM's club, we founded a postpartum depression group for the moms of multiples.

I started talking to the president of the MOM's club.  She gave me tips for surviving twins and the depression.  She took the babies for me on occasion.

The intrusive thoughts stopped,
the guilt faded to a low whisper instead of a loud roar,  
slowly, the other symptoms either faded away or became manageable...

On their one-year-birthday, I had my smile back and could plan a small party for them.  It was no longer too overwhelming to order a birthday cake (or 2), or plan dinner.  And I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of their 1st birthday.  I had come full circle. 

It took a good two years to really feel like myself again.  But that wasn't all depression and anxiety.  Part of that was just raising baby twins. 

On their two-year birthday, I remember looking straight into the camera as we stood in a park and



thinking and believing

"I have survived...and so have they.  I did it.  I really did it."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'd Like to Return These Babies Please Part II

The First Six Weeks

Dave was home for the first two weeks of the twin's lives.  Nearly one week of that was spent in the hospital.

Mom came and went for the first six weeks.  She'd leave and the panic would set in -- and just as I would think  maybe I was close to getting my footing on this mother-of-twins gig, she would return and I would hand everything off to her.

Of course, I wasn't really functioning.  Noon would hit and I would still be in pajamas.  It didn't even occur to me to dress the twins, much less bathe them.  They and I were lucky we were eating, breathing, and -- at times -- sleeping.

She's Gone

The day after mom left for the final time, Dave dressed for work and then handed me Sophia.  She was an intense baby.  The only way to keep her from crying was to hold her while walking her around. 

I was still in bed when he had to leave.  He handed her to me and she started screaming.  "Not again!" I told her. 

At that moment, I felt like I was falling off a cliff. 

Free Fall Downward

I didn't want to hurt the twins.  In the hospital I told Dave I was desperately afraid something was going to happen to them.  There was no reason for that level of anxiety. They were full-term, healthy, six and seven pound babies.

I couldn't make decisions. The morning I was to return to work, I flaked out.  I sat in my pajamas.  The daycare provider called "where are you all?"  I didn't call her back.  I didn't call work.  I. just. sat. I couldn't leave my babies with a stranger.  How would we make it on one income?  And I didn't feel I was the best person to mother them... I couldn't think.  Couldn't decide.  On anything. 

I was frozen.

I felt keyed up and agitated, but lacked energy or motivation to get through the day.  I couldn't concentrate well enough to read or cook or watch TV.

I felt out of control. And Dave, who is always the calm rock of the family became irritable, snappy, and overwhelmed.  I was scared.  If he’s not the grounded one here, who is?  How far will I fall? 

I was so fearful of harm coming to the twins, that left alone with the twins, the intrusive thoughts would hit me.  I'd walk by the microwave and wonder, "what if I put one of them in the microwave?"  Walking by the stair railing upstairs, holding a baby, I'd wonder "What if I go crazy and throw her over the stair rail?" 

I was afraid to leave them sleeping.  What if they died of SIDS?  Nightly, I couldn't sleep unless I felt their faces for air moving in and out.  If one slept "too long," I'd awake in a panic and race out of bed to their bedside, certain the worst had happened.

I was irritable.  I wrote in a journal "If they scream one more time I won’t be able to take it.  I can’t stand them. I don’t want them near me."  At times I would think that I would be able to handle things as I sat there breast feeding one baby, then Dave would come in with a second baby and I’d think, “Oh God there’s two of them”.  

I would breast feed them and stare at the wall, waiting until they would be done.  It felt like they were sucking the very life out of me.  

My self-esteem was in the toilet I honestly hadn't really thought I'd ever be a mother after all of our losses and failed fertility treatments.  During the pregnancy I didn't really think about mothering live children.  And if the thought did flit through my mind, I brushed it aside.  I had been a nanny or a babysitter for well over 15 years.  I had cared for multiple infants at a time with no problem.  I had cared for children with various physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities.  My degrees specialized in child development.  Parenting twins, I thought, would be easy enough. 

I felt guilty for everything I did do and everything I didn't do.   What kind of mother doesn't breast feed her own children?  I was already a failure in that I couldn't produce enough milk for both of them.  But to quit altogether AND voluntarily? 

WHO does that?  Who chooses formula?  ALL the books, doctors, nurses, --hell, society -- say moms sure the hell better breastfeed their babies.   

As if it's such an easy thing.  Did you know that to breastfeed ONE newborn a mom spends eight hours/day nursing?  I had two babies.  And let's not even get into how taxing it is to make sure you drink enough, eat enough, and rest enough to produce the milk.  It's not an effortless physical accomplishment.  

But I wasn't sleeping.  

I couldn't eat enough or drink enough or rest enough or hold Sophia enough to make her stop crying. 

At eight weeks the milk ran dry...
I was that mom who doesn't breastfeed. 

Relief was mixed with guilt and a sense of horrible failure. Motherhood was not going as planned...

I fantasized of running away where no one would find me.  In the car, alone, I thought of just driving forever.

I fantasized of not waking children would be better off without me...

To Be Continued....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Getting Whipped Around

The wind is whipping between 30-60 mph and it is nothing compared to the twinado in my house.  I'm not sure why they are so wired....

They just won't stop moving...or talking...or making messes...or sassing back...or bugging Andi...or screaming...or talking, talking, talking, talking.

After Andi fell off the counter, I sent the below email to a fellow stay-at-home parent...I'm not sure what I wanted.  Perhaps I was sending an SOS...

bad day. the kind of day where i have the realization that i am NOT running the show. just reacting, at best.

it started with them "making breakfast" because they couldn't be patient. I found a loaf of bread in the microwave with the METAL twist tie on it. how the microwave didn't blow up, i'm not sure.

my head is pounding.

i think i'm going to die.

not to be dramatic or anything. 

So, you can keep sending me notes such as "still waiting for Part 2," but today just wasn't my day...I'll get to it...

Sooner or later.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I'd Like to Return These Babies Please Part I

I left the twins' bands on for a few days after bringing them home from the hospital. 

I've often left the tags on my new clothes in case I needed to return them out of guilt of spending money on myself or a change of mind.  I've even worn clothes with the tags on.  You know, just in case...

In a sleep-deprived, depressed, and anxious state, I left the twins' hospital bands on in case... well, in case I needed to return them. 

The Switch

A switch had flipped in my head the week before the twins were born.  "What if they come and I don't want them?"  I was testing Dave. 

"Of course you will want them," he had told me. 

He didn't know that already I didn't think I wanted them.  I wanted everything to go away. 

26 1/2 Weeks of Isolation 

I had spent weeks 8-20 on bed rest confined to my home.  Morning sickness had wasted me away to 98 pounds.

Finally able to keep food down, I went back to work part-time for 4 weeks.

Weeks 24 through 38 1/2  were spent on the couch.  I saw Dave for a couple hours in the evening, then we slept separately.

I was lonely. 

The majority of my time was spent with unchecked worry of losing 2 more babies in this high risk pregnancy.  Often, I literally couldn't breathe partly due to anxiety, partly due to two babies squishing my lungs.

What About Me?

If we don’t take care of mothers, they can’t take care of their babies.” –Jeanne Driscoll

By week 37, nurse practitioners and staff at the perinatology office recommended to my MALE doctor that the twins be delivered due to my severe discomfort and distress.


Finally, the day of the planned c-section arrived and we set off to the hospital.  The moment the babies cried for the first time was surreal.  I literally breathed a sigh of relief.  They were safe.  They were alive.  I will never forget their first cry, nor the literal and figurative feeling of weight being taken off my chest and the ability to breathe once more.

Relief overcame me.

In recovery, I was losing vast amounts of blood and within moments of needing a transfusion.  The babies nurse kept coming in telling my nurse "The babies are hungry, can we bring them in to be fed?"

My nurse kept telling her that I was unstable -- physically.  And I kept thinking, "God! They just came out!  They are hungry already? Can't I get a break?!"  I was annoyed to put it lightly.  I didn't care to see them. I was glad they were here -- safe -- now someone else take them. I've done my job, put in my time, and I need a moment to breathe. 

Wait!  Don't Just Leave Them!

Finally stable -- physically -- they wheeled my bed to a large corner room at the end of the hall.  We would reside there for four days.  When I looked over, once my bed was set, there were two bassinets of babies settled beside me.  The nurse left. 

I was angry.  Resentful.  I'm still heavily drugged, I am in severe pain, and you are leaving two newborns in here.  What the fuck am I supposed to do now?  Rely on Dave?  He doesn't know what to do with one baby, much less two. 

The panic set in.  Whirling, dizzying panic.  The kind that makes your heart skip beats and takes away your breath. 

The Facts

With two newborns, severe pain, and no sleep, and a husband who I needed to be on his toes, but was instead also sleep deprived and who lacked baby-care savvy, my mood kept swirling down.  

Research shows that women most at risk for post-partum depression include: 
  1. those with previous pregnancy losses  -check-
  2. those who have undergone IVF          -check-
  3. those with multiples                            -check-
  4. those in a high risk pregnancy             -check-
  5. those with a history of depression       -check-
  6. those who have been on bedrest         -check-

Well.  That's check times six. 

And post-partum depression can start PREceding the birth, as it did for me.

And lack of sleep worsens post-partum depression.  Studies show that if a mom can get 5 hours straight of sleep, it will better her mood and speed her recovery from depression.

With twins, I was getting....maybe...45 minutes of sleep at a time totalling about 4 hours a night.  Night after night. 

I Can't Ask for Help

If we don’t take care of mothers, they can’t take care of their babies.” –Jeanne Driscoll

One nurse, noticing my sleep deprivation took the babies from the room telling me that I HAD to get some sleep.  I never ask for help, and was ashamed I had to take their help.
Two hours later, another night nurse came on.  She brought the babies back to my room and said,

"You shouldn't be using the baby nursery.  You need to get used to taking care of your babies on your own so you'll know what to do when you get home."


 We arrived home. To no one. Except the dogs.  The dogs kept jumping at the babies, excitedly snapping and licking at them.  I started to panic.  And then cry.  I couldn't stop crying.  And worrying. 

Dave put in an emergency call to my family "come get the dogs. Now."  And so Dad dropped everything and came to our rescue. 

I tried to nap, but woke up, still under the effects of narcotics and began panicking.  The baby that I fell asleep with in my bed was gone.  I tore the comforter off.  Then the sheets.  They were piled at my feet when Dave came in and I sobbed that I had "lost one of the babies."  

"I took her downstairs. Your dad is holding them."  


I looked at Dave. Tearful.  And I told him I was horribly afraid.  I didn't know of what.  Of going crazy?  Of something.  Whatever it was, my training as a mental health therapist told me something was very wrong.  And I needed to get help, get meds.  

I called the nurse and asked to be started on an anti-depressant immediately.  She was supportive, but I'd need to come see my MALE OB.  

I Can't Ask for Help

If we don’t take care of mothers, they can’t take care of their babies.” –Jeanne Driscoll

 I described my anxious and depressive symptoms to my OB as if I was describing a patient of mine.  It was clear, in my professional mind that I was in trouble.  He stared at me, smiled, and said, "You are just tired from having two babies and major surgery.  I don't think this is depression."  

 He gave me zoloft anyway...and I took it.  I braced myself, waiting for it to take it's full effect. The downward momentum, even with the zoloft, was hard to stop. 

To Be Continued....

Friday, October 22, 2010

If You Ask Me...

I'd tell preschool teachers to PLEASE avoid using glitter as an arts and crafts tool.  If you must use it, please do not send the "artwork" home. 

I'd tell veterinary offices to avoid placing 20-pound cats in the lobby.  A cat lounging in the lobby is just an invitation for my children to come touch him despite you telling us "be careful -- he's a little

           and p.s. - do define "a little naughty" for me because I certainly wasn't picturing a   bobcat-type growl, followed by a paw swipe, finished off with hissing and teeth baring.  

 But typically, no one asks me, so I'll just leave the comments here on my blog for myself to enjoy. 

As far as other news from this week, 16 month-old Andi surprised me with a few comments. 

"Here you go," she said as she handed me a button.  I thanked her and she responded "welcome!"

She brought me a book "Look!  Book!"

And tonight when she dropped the filling of her oreo on the floor and Mocha tried to eat it, she began swatting Mocha -- who we all, including Andi, know to be a biter -- and yelled "No! No! No!" 

After shooing Mocha away, Andi looked at me and said, "Dumb Caca."

I'm not making that up.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday is Bleeding

I went to bed at a decent hour Monday night; but not decent enough to insulate my mood and cognitive function from ONE MORE NIGHT of Andi and Sophia waking me up.  I was like a pinball bouncing from bed to bed, need to need. 

At one point, Sophia came to get me up with an excuse that told me she has run dry on good reasons to be out of bed at three in the morning,

"My butt is red."

Well, that stumped me.  Was she concerned she was turning into a baboon?  What was I to do about her predicament? 

I'm still stumped on this Tuesday morning that seems more like a Monday morning.  Without a full night of good sleep to put a period at the end of all of Monday's well-earned awfulness, it seems to me that Monday just won't end.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I can't find the phone -- the TV remote is "hung up" where my phone should be. I don't know if I did that or if the twins did that. 

I realized this morning that Andi has given up her morning naps.  This was a devastating realization for me. 

My trainer tried to kill me this past weekend at the gym. Additionally, my 15 year-old dog, while under the influence of an opioid, also tried to kill me.

I took the dog to the vet this past weekend due to coughing and breathing issues.  Her death is not imminent; however, it is to the point that her health and behavior is begging me to consider euthanasia in the near future.  A pain pill she was put on caused aggression.  She stalked me and attacked me three times.  

On a better news front, we had a great time at a friend's home on Saturday night. He likes to burn  furniture and torment his wife with claims that rodents are near, but he makes great tacos.  I think we'll keep them on the "friend list" for the time being.

As far as my Mother-of-the-Year status: 
  • I burned Ella's head with a curling iron this weekend. In my defense, it was my first time using a curling iron in almost 20 years.  My short hair does not warrant such things.

  • I uttered the following statement to Dave, "Take them. I want nothing to do with them.  I am going to mow the lawn and then make dinner.  I don't want to have anything to do with these children.  All they do is fight. And their fighting woke up Andi from her one and ONLY NAP TODAY!  I can do NOTHING because they need constant attention."  

  • I tried to write instead of watching Andi while the twins were at school today.  Hearing plastic rustling, I decided to check on her.  I found her sitting on the kitchen floor eating a loaf of bread.  She had un-latched the baby-proofing latch and helped herself to the loaf as well as the stale heels of bread I keep to give Cujo her pain pills.  As I cleaned up, Andi commented "Mmmmmm. Good!" 

Thursday, October 14, 2010


October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  

I promised myself I'd contribute my story. 

But I can't write 

Years later and here I sit

Three babies gone

I'm trying to hold it all in

Barely breathing

Because maybe --  if I hold still -- very, very still

It won't hurt anymore.


A few links...

I have no photographs and I think the below organization is amazing in what it gives to families...

The Little Vietnamese Man on My Counter and other Tales from Our Week

My paternal grandma had a siamese cat named "Pu-Ying."  Dad, I believe, is the one who named the cat. And if memory serves me, "Pu-Ying" means "little girl," a phrase Dad learned during his time in Vietnam.

While in Vietnam working on airplanes, Dad also acquired a squat.  Other little Vietnamese men would squat for extended periods of time, butts off the ground, legs folded up so that, if need be, the knees could act as a chin rest.  I haven't any pictures of this particular style of squat. 

Dad loves homemade waffles and pancakes.  It's one of his favorites.  

It was five o'clock and homemade buttermilk waffles were sitting on the counter.  The twins' had abandoned their "little-helper" chair by the counter.  I finished off our favorite sausage Aunt CC sends us from a few states away.  I then turned around to find Andi, channeling her grampa.

On the counter.

Squatting like a little Vietnamese man.

Eating from the steaming pile of waffles.

Funky Music

Last weekend was a good one.  Dave didn't mention needing to work or "enter time" once.  He was around the whole weekend and we got a lot done around the house.  At one point, Dave started singing "Play that funky music white boy.  Play that funky music..." I don't remember the rest of the words.  The girls and I looked at each other, embarrassed for him -- the weirdo. 

It wasn't long before Ella decided to copycat him and I heard her singing, 

"Play that fucky music white boy!  Play that fucky music now!"

"ELLA!  It's fuN-ky"

"Play that fucky music white boy!  Play that fucky music now!"

"Ella.  Just sing that song at home.  Not at school."

Butt Cheer

Walking through the bedroom this morning -- it's 9:30 AM and I'm still trying to put real clothes on -- I hear Sophia shout to Ella while they bounce on my bed, 

"Let's do the butt cheer!"

This caught my attention.  

I watched as Sophia angled her little butt up in the air while Ella turned herself around pointing her butt at Sophia.  BAM!  

Ella smacked her butt into Sophia's butt and Sophia tumbled down on her face landing in a pile of giggles. 

Oh good lord.  Standing in the bathroom, I called Dave who was stuck in traffic on 35W and relayed the story.  "Did you teach them this?"

"No.  It sounds like something drunk fraternity guys would do." 

In other words, yes, he probably did teach them the "butt cheer."

Here's some pics from the last week for the dear relatives who keep up with us, but don't see the girls often enough. 
Andi, Sophia, and Ella
Contentedly coloring on paper AND the linloeum

Warm October weather, Ella takes care of our new tree.


Saturday, October 9, 2010


"Did you guys get your room cleaned up?  No book before bed if you don't get it done."

Sophia comes to the top of the stairs and holds her hand out, as if to stop Dave from coming upstairs too soon. "No worries!" She tells him, "Just a few more toys and we're done."

In the background, Dave can see Ella zipping back and forth, desparately trying to pick up all the toys they should have picked up instead of playing Barbie after putting pajamas on.

Dave found the whole bedtime struggle funny.  Good.  Because night after night of it had run my patience down. 

And sometimes, if I'm being honest, it makes me a little jealous when he can swoop in and they listen to him...or when they don't listen he has the ability to ignore the attention-seeking naughtiness.  

I think this is probably why it was I got so much enjoyment when the girls double-teamed him.

Sophia had done something time-out worthy.  Instead of heading to time-out as told, she took off running through the house.  Dave lunged for her to grab her and missed.  Soon he is chasing her around the partition between our living room and kitchen.  As Sophia outpaces him as they run in a circle, I suddenly hear Ella let out a delighted shriek and shout,


Oh damn. 

I pressed my body and face into the cupboards and shook silently with laughter.  If Dave and his mounting anger saw me laugh, I might end up in time-out, too.  And if Sophia saw me laughing, it would only undermine Dave. 

He finally caught up with the blonde sprinting sprite and set her in time-out and came into the kitchen where I stood, by this time, completely in control of my laughter.

He gave me big eyes that said "God, can you believe that?"

Yes.  Yes, I could.  And I thoroughly and completely enjoyed it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Words from the Sick House

Andi is napping and still healthy.  Daddy is napping; up too late last night with vomiting Ella.  I need to go turn in preschool tuition or risk paying a late charge.  To Sophia and Ella I say, 

"Stay inside while I am gone. If someone knocks, No answering the door, stay in the family room. Do not answer the phone.  And only go bother daddy if you are: bleeding, throwing up, or can't breathe."

I thought that ought to cover all the bases while being simple enough for them to implement my orders.  I think the combination of the stomach bug and strep throat that we have here in our house has tamed them enough so that I needn't worry about them climbing, jumping, or attempting to fly like a fairy off furniture.

Sophia looked at me and said quizzically, 


When I laugh...really hard...I can't breathe."


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Home From the Hospital with Sophia

I will update more later.  For now, just know that Sophia is doing much better.  And now the question is, are the rest of us gonna go down, too?  I guess you will know the answer if you don't see any posts within a day or so!  ADD IN Friday AM:  Ella is succombing to the bug...and I may never sleep again.  Her 1st strep test was negative.  We are staying tuned for ongoing readings of her culture b/c the child is SICK.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And One Blog Becomes Two

Last week or the week before there was a letter to the editor in my local newspaper.  I tried to find it online because I wanted to provide the link so that you, the reader, would believe me when I said it was written by a crazy person.  

The man (a conservative) who wrote the letter indicated that there were "takers and makers" in the world, and that "takers" were outnumbering "makers."  He then indicated that women especially were "takers" in our society.  

His warped view served as a distraction of true issues and actually fixing anything.  So I decided an angry retort to the editor was not warranted.

Expressing passionate opinions -- especially about political issues -- brings out the crazies.  I'm talking about me, though, now. Give me three nights of minimal sleep, five hours at MD offices the day before, and a high maintenance child that becomes even more high maintenance while throwing up every 15 minutes into a bucket


and there you have it. 

A sure way for me to come un-done.  

Have you ever come un-done?  Maybe misread something, acted angrily, and then find out you inserted snarky sarcasm where there was none? 

I have.  Today. 

I thought a crazy man had posted to my blog.  And the first thought I had was "Oh God. I've gone too far.  I never should have written OOC I & II on this blog." Doing so had possibly brought in an audience I didn't want anywhere near my children.   The poster's wording didn't make sense to me.  There were no verbal cues, body language cues, and I had no idea who in the hell he was or what he was really trying to communicate. 

So I consulted four people whose opinions I trust and respect.

Now as it all turns out...  Yes... Here's the funny part.  The person was probably trying to be "cute." Really?

Or perhaps they were a "tired liberal, I hear that sort of statement all the time at meetings of democrats."  And then he continued, "You know being a great writer also means you should have good reading comprehension.  Way to go, Superstar." 

Ouch. But deserved.


My Readers
...Happen to be pretty compassionate and respectful people.  I know this because, even as I write very strong opinions, the numbers on the blog have been clicking up at a fast pace recently (who in the hell, I wonder, cares what I have to say?), and while some have directly disagreed with me, they were respectful.  I tolerated it.  And after meeting Dr. Boyt, I appreciated it.  Because it meant they still had their voice and they were still engaged, and in a good way. 

So I'm not proud of going off half-cocked. You are very lucky if you are even-keeled.

As the day went on and Sophia threw up all over the leather couch, the throw pillows, the carpets and the rugs.  And as Andi screamed that she couldn't hold the throw up bucket.  And Ella complained OVER AND OVER that she wanted to go to the park, or watch TV, etc. 
I realized 

That I needed to offer an apology to Salt. I'm sorry.  The loss of one's dignified bearing is often sudden. -- Jerry Van Amerongen

That I needed to keep up my courage to keep going with Change Writing and stay engaged with A and Dr. Boyt.  This gave birth to Giving Voice to Passion: My Journey Towards Change  which will contain OOC type writings. Nothing, yet, is written on that blog.  I've spent today wondering how to clean up vomit and my self-created social mess.

I need to lessen chances of crazies being attracted to my blog. That being said, for now, it will not be privatized, but it will no longer be a place for me to express political opinions.  It will be a mom-blog, but I will still write using brutal honesty, and humor, though that is often accidental. 

 ...Are my thoughts on pregnancy loss.  October 15th is Remembrance Day, and I want to contribute my voice so that the three little babies I never met, who would now be 6, 7 and 10 years old are not forgotten. Nor are the other babies lost daily.  

He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.  -Confucious

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Processing What the Hell Just Happened

I looked at A.  I had not seen her in a good six years; since I had left my position as her nanny while she sported the job as freelance writer.  I couldn't take the corporate bullshit of the job I was in as a mental health counselor and I went back to my roots -- caring for children. 

A looked beautiful.  She had make-up on, killer knee-high black boots and I swear she melted away some weight.  Her hair was scrunched into, I imagine, natural curls that hung around her face and her black-framed glasses that she took off and put on again throughout the meeting made her look, to me, all the more sophisticated and beautiful.  And smart.

And she led the meeting with this great man I had the honor of meeting today,  Dr. Harry Boyt.  I'm afraid to try to summarize the meeting for fear, that out of my naivete and meager understanding of what he is all about, that I will get something wrong and do him and his work a disservice. 

As he spoke about activism and engagement in civic matters, I was left speechless at moments, struck by the truth of what he just said.  The brilliance of his thoughts.  His years of work,practicing what he preached (successfully) and study showed. 

At times I was overcome with connection to what it was he was saying.  When he said "everyone has a story.  You must speak to someone with radically different beliefs than yours.  And you must do it with curiosity." I wondered if he had met me in a past life.  I have uttered the words "everyone has a story" countless times.  And I am wildly curious about people's stories.  All their stories.  And so why it had never occurred to me, in one of my daydreams of talking to someone just to get their story, to talk to a person with a "conservative" viewpoint, I don't know.  But Dr. Boyt's advice made sense.

And non-partisanship is beginning to make sense to me.  But, and that is a big but, letting go of our own stance to begin problem solving is hard, hard work.  I have no answers. 

After the meeting, A and I caught up with one another on a more personal level.  And then we began talking about my writing, my views, how it can fit with her writing, her organization.  She pointed out that I don't like bullying, or imbalance of power, or exclusion.  Yes.  Now what?  I don't know.  We are meeting again to shake things out further. 

We talked about mothering

I talked about the time I landed in therapy when the twins were four or five months old.  Depressed and anxious, I told the grandmotherly therapist, who also happened to be a grandma of twins, that "all the moms of multiples I met 'loved' mothering.  They were happy in their marriage.  They were managing their double load of babies and toddlers, still cleaning and cooking.  And smiling and laughing."  I told her how I couldn't do it.  That it was really fucking hard, just about every moment of it.  That at times, I would dislike my twins or feel burdened by them. I was horrible.

Unspeakably horrible.

She looked at me and said,

"I think all those moms are smoking crack.  Quit meeting with them."

I told A today that she appeared strong and solid during the time I worked for her.  A told me that she didn't feel she was strong, and that she was often overwhelmed.  I still think she was and is strong.  Sometimes being strong is not about holding it all together, it's about having the courage to let it all fall apart and having faith that the pieces will get picked up.  That's what I should have said to A today when I met with her.

And I wish I would have asked her if, as an introvert, raising a curious, energetic, spirited-child was draining.  Did she ever, as I do with my -- high needs, for lack of better language -- four-year-old just feel the need to say "Go away. Please, I beg you.  You are swallowing me whole."?

We talked about my ability to be real in my experience as a mom.  To say things that others think, but dare not say.  She validated the difficulty of living up to impossible rules of being a  perfect white suburban mom.

The meeting had to wrap up.  The topic of pay came up.  It will be scant.  But A can teach me to be more effective as a Change Writer.   "That's ok. I'm not here for money."  And while part of me didn't want the moment that I had been waiting for -- but never knew I was waiting for -- to end, I was drained. 

The topics, the conversations, the ideas were intense.  Even more intense, was the realization that by sticking with my guns, staying true in my voice, and daring myself to give into passion, I was accepted.  And I was acknowledged -- as a writer -- who can make a difference. 

I'm arriving.  And I couldn't have planned it better myself. 
Update to the Update:

Sophia asked for a drink. Long-time readers know what happened next.  Vomiting.  We headed to the ped.

Diagnosis: Strep Throat

Not a good day for the Sophie...broken foot, throwing up, and a big old shot of penicillin in the leg.
Update to below post:  

According to the orthopedic doc, Sophia's foot is broken.  I had this *feeling* that was the problem and that we needed to be at the orthoped the day it happened. But managed care, etc. happened and 1.5 weeks later, he tells us that "the worst is over."  She will continue to have pain, probably another 1.5 weeks left of healing.  No boot or cast since she is able to hobble around without terrible difficulty.  "Keep her quiet and give her motrin. Come back in two weeks if the limp keeps up."

I picked her up from a friend's house this afternoon.  She bolted to the door, "I am READY TO LEAVE." That was strange for my social butterfly.  Now, hours later, as she is plastered to the couch, I realize not only is her foot broken, but she is also sick. 

Update on how my meeting today went with the writer and the great man I mentioned in a below post will have to come later.  Still processing everything.

Family in the Last Week- Flying Fairies, Hurt Feet, and a Chatty Toddler

This is a typical-type mom blog entry that is about to occur. You know the type.  The type where I go on and on about my kids.  And the relatives will appreciate it, I think.  But everyone else is going to skim for pics and click out...Not that that doesn't happen with my other blogs.  But, well.  Fair warning.  Mom-blog ahead.  And it's not even funny.  It really is a Mom-Blog. Ack.

Trip to Iowa
These past couple weeks have taken us all to Iowa.  I have no pictures of our trip to Center Grove Orchard.  I forgot the camera.  The bro brought his along -- and he is professionally trained in photography, as that started as his major -- so I can only hope to get those fine pics from him sometime.  

The girls had great fun jumping on the Jumping Pillow, swimming in a huge corn pool, sliding down the Super Slide, visiting the homes of the Three Little Pigs, and petting farm animals.  I had great fun eating.  This was Iowa.  A farm in Iowa.  A farm in Iowa that made everything homemade.  Due to poor organization and large crowds, we had to wait 40 minutes for our burgers and apple pie.  The bees buzzed by me.  But I was unshakable and focused.  All the Iowa girl in me could think while waiting for lunch was, 

"This is gonna be good."

And it was. 

How We Spent Our Afternoons
Everyday last week the girls and I toured a different park. This is Minnesota and nice weather is drawing to a close.  

The Fairy with a Heavy Landing
Ella jumped on Sophia's foot. Ella wanted to fly like a fairy so launched herself off the table.  

Two sets of x-rays one week apart do not show a break.  But the foot is swelling and painful, so we head to an orthopedic doc on Oct 5th. 

Smashed Pumpkins
The girls and I went to a local nursery and picked the biggest pumpkins from the patch, got a steal of a deal on them, only to have someone remove them from our front step and smash them in the cul-de-sac.  The girls are sad about this, but I am relieved that the scarecrow we made the same day (out of Dave's clothes) is still standing. 

Andi at 15 Months
BUSTED!  Coloring on the wall while STANDING on the table.

This photo catches Andi in the moment of tickling her own tummy.  "Tickle tickle!"  And she "tickle tickle!" everyone else's tummies, too lately.  It's like living with Elmo.

Andi continues to blossom her vocab.  It is odd to hear her talking so much.  She has 40+ words in her vocab, jumps up in the air, runs, and has the most amazing temper tantrums around, especially when I won't let her stay in the girls' preschool classroom.  Last week, I counted to five, as I so often do when I am warning the twins about their behavior.  Andi joined in. 

I yelled "ONE"
Andi interjected "TWO!"
I yelled "Three, Four"
Andi interjected again "FIVE!"

I tell her things and she says "I know."  I yell for her and instead of coming to me she says "WHAT?" and then walks away. Mocha tried to lick her and she yelled "CA-CA NO!"  She plugs her nose and says "P.U. Stinky." And pushes Dave from behind telling him to "GO!"  She laughs like a lunatic as the twins push her in a buggy at full-speed.  I standby and picture our trip to the ER.  She comes up with new words on a daily basis, out of the blue, announcing the thing on her foot is a "sock" and pointing to my sister, blurts out "Kelli."  Her healthy development is not lost on me.  Not one minute of it taken for granted.  In fact, all three of my children's health is not lost on me. 

Andi's 15 month check up showed her height above the 97th percentile and her weight at the 50th percentile.  She has four teeth coming in beckoning the pediatrician to comment on the "busy mess" in Andi's mouth.  And her swallowing issues that once prompted 911 calls seem to be under control, and hopefully fading away. 
In awe, Andi rides in her big girl car seat for the first time.  She warmed up to it fast, pointing and exclaiming "OOOH!"

Twins Activities
The twins love preschool.  They are in the same class, but it is going well.  Soccer is ending, and (glory hallelujah) they have decided to return to ballet/gymnastics.  I love pink...and tutus...and dancing...and music...and watching them do something they are good at and love. 

Sophia experienced that rite of passage known as cutting her own hair.  Standing in a pile of blond locks, she denied she had cut her hair.  In fact, that wasn't even her hair!  Hmph. 
We bought a season pass to Minnesota Children's Museum.  The girls LOVE going there and participate in all of the exhibits with the exception of the Live Animal Exhibit.  They drew the line at touching rats. 

Ella the postman



Andi driving the bus.

The twins, exhausted after a busy day, curled up together.

Ella the turtle.  I see a lot of symbolism in this picture.

Mice and Death

There's been a fair amount of wildlife around.  Today the girls and I watched four deer prance out of our neighbor's yard and into the preserve.  We also spent an afternoon watching a mouse slowly succumb to the poison Dave set out in the garage.  I was conflicted about killing anything.  And certainly didn't want it to suffer.  But, they were destructive...and the neurotic part of me is fearful of the Hanta virus being transmitted.  Is that here in MN?  

And I appreciated the opportunity to further speak with them about death as I am wondering how much longer our 15 year-old Pomeranian has to live.  When death comes for her, the term death won't be completely foreign for the twins, which, I think, will afford them a little less confusion.  We had examined a few dead birds this summer. One smashed in the road by a car "And that is WHY you don't run in the street!"  And another one dropped in our drive-way by a larger bird of prey.

I'm sure there is more. But this catches things up a bit.  

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shaking in My Boots

"Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform.” Susan B. Anthony


Interesting things have happened in the last couple weeks.  A reader of my blog, who I don't know, but who knows my dad sent me a thank-you note in the mail.  I had sent some diapers her way for her beautiful new baby.  That made my day -- her unexpected show of gratitude. 


 Another reader of my blog, who I don't know, has become a wonderful person to chat with between our children falling off chairs, planning parties, and trying our darnedest to maintain our sanity as we lead each other on fantasies of what it would be like to take each other's children for a full week while the other completely and thoroughly organizes her home. Fantasy is the key word -- she lives states away. 


A writer -- whom I knew years ago and before I knew that I too wanted to be a writer -- popped back into my life and invited me to meet her and an internationally known expert in civil engagement.  My OOC pieces, it turns out, were spoken with enough passion to get her attention and take me down a new road that begins tomorrow when I meet them both.

 After writing the OOC pieces, I realized that some people decided they didn't like me too well.  And some days that bothered me. Other days it didn't. I am still conflicted about it. 


Apprehensive about tomorrow's meeting, and about continuing to express my new-found voice of passion, Susan B. Anthony whispered the above statement to me. 



 And a friend's words to his daughter seemed advice I need to follow as well... 


"Be kind - Don’t be soft, but be gentle. Don’t crawl over anyone on your way up, but don’t stop crawling up either." Unconventional Wisdom Author


 In the past couple weeks, I have come to realize that one neighbor must certainly be made of sugar, she is so kind.  That sounds sappy, but it is what comes to mind.  She gladly takes my children for me -- even at the drop of a hat when I had to run Sophia in for X-rays after Ella jumped off a table and crushed Sophia's foot.  This woman is always there, and I don't know if she knows that I am humbled in her presence.  And that I consider her a lifesaver. And a safety net.  She's always been there...I am only now letting her in.  


These three woman who have, even after my riled up OOC rant, have shown me kindness.  I'm not sure if they agreed with me, but they have modeled to me the importance of staying engaged with one another-- even with people who don't have the same views.  It shows respect. It shows human-ness.  And acceptance. 


And it takes away defensiveness, game-playing, and power struggles for who is right and who is wrong.  


It gets me to wondering how much we could accomplish if we all truly tried to improve things and let go of building our egos. 



Well, that's all I have to say for right now.  I don't know politics.  And I don't know what "citizenship" means when paired with civil engagement.  So I'll go tomorrow. And meet a great man while re-uniting with a writer I once knew.  And, in all my smallness, I will listen while Susan B. Anthony holds my hand.