Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

2010 has been unbelievably good to me.  We brought home our new daughter.  I was in school full-time with an internship when we took placement, and I still managed to make the Dean's List.  I graduated and earned my certificate in addictions counseling and got my trainee license.  To that end, I spent another year alcohol and drug free.  Celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary, and learned it does get better and better each year.  We finalized the adoption of Campbell, and celebrated the adoption of her two best friends by our two best friends.  All in all a fantastic year.  Definitely one of the best in recent memory.

May everyone have a happy, healthy, and peaceful new year!  Cam says Happy New Year...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Girls Night.

One girl baby, tired, but awake and alert.  One Mama, tired and not very alert.  One girl Pug (Zelda), concerned, looking for a warm lap to snuggle, always tired.  One girl cat (Alabama), curious but tired. 

All four of us in one comfy, down-stuffed chair handed down from my Mom and Dad, after Dad passed away.  That chair is special, because my Dad always read his newspapers each night in the chair.  Now I get to cradle my baby in it before her naps and bed.  Having my first "baby", Zelda, join us is a rare treat.  She LOVES Rob, and will only deign to sit with me when his lap isn't available.  Cam may be getting sick, she was a little off after dinner and bath, her head was hot, but the thermometer betrayed me and gave a reading of 97.7.  Cam has never been sick, a little congestion, but has never had a fever.  :(  The kid feels hot to me (dosed her with Ibuprofen), and has basically been awake since we put her down to bed at her usual 1830.  I am almost sick with anticipation of what may happen.
I have a feeling the baby, Pug, kitty, and I are going to spend a lot of time together tonight.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's Cam's first Christmas!

 Happiest little Grinch

 All dressed up, and Mama's in jeans????

Had to delete the first 20 pictures I took of Cam on the floor at my Mom's.  She was super serious and quiet.  Then Grammie walked in the room, and Cam went nuts.  All smiles, laughs, and clapping.  We think Mom carries baby treats in her pockets the way she carries dog treats in them.

Christmas Eve dinner with my brother and his family and my sister and her son at Mom's.  A good portion of the evening was spent watching my 16 year old nephew stacking Cam's new Melissa & Doug nesting boxes.  For real.  That kid played with those boxes for over an hour.  I bet his mother is bitter about spending all that dough on X-Box games now.  Heh.

Since it's after midnight now, we are just a few short hours away from Cam getting all her gifts.  I am beyond excited, even though I know she will only give a shit about the empty boxes, tissue paper, and bows.  Really, this is ALL for me.  Later in the morning we head to my other sister's house to open presents and have breakfast with her little ones.  She insists her ten year old still believes.  I think she is humoring her mother.  :)

Think it may be time to get into bed.  Waiting for Santa is tiring business.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Friday, December 24, 2010

First World Problem of the Day:

The gate we bought to protect the tree from a curious Cam is almost too small, because of all the presents under it now.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I only got up to get a drink of water.

I suppose this would be a text-book case of ADHD in an adult.  I put Cam down for a nap, did a little cleaning and hopped on the computer to relax.  I got thirsty for more water, plus I had noticed the humidifier was empty.  Two birds, one stone.  Got distracted going 5 feet from the sofa to the humidifier, ended up scrubbing a diaper in the bathroom.  Went back, grabbed the humidifier, headed 20 feet to the kitchen, while inspecting the cap to the resevoir.  My OCD brain spots a speck of what looks like mold.  Get to the kitchen give the resevoir a sniff, and decide Clorox was called for.  I start scrubbing the cap, fill the resevoir with water and some Clorox to sit, and thought "maybe I should clean the humidifier unit too.  Go back into the living room, pick up toys on the way.  Start to unplug the humidifier and realize there is a LOT of dust behind the toy rack and TV stand.  Grab the vacuum and clean that area, and realize while i have the vacuum out, I might as well do the living room...BUT...I am now torn.  Finish de-funking the humidifier, or clean floors???

Humidifier wins out (ADHD meds must be working, because that could have really flummoxed me), so the unit and I head back to the kitchen.  As I am cleaning the base out, I decide to wipe the whole unit down.  That is when I spy the blackest, nastiest glob of goo staring back at me from the HOLE WHERE THE HUMIDITY COMES OUT.  Did I ever mention, I have a thing about germs?  Not the clinical OCD, but REALLY get freaked by them.  Grab the Clorox and start spraying so much that I start coughing.  Realize that there is a little trap door on the unit, and when I open it up...

Sweet Gay Jesus, the horror. I very nearly retched, but held it together enough to nearly empty the Clorox container on it.  It was a tangled mess of black, gooey matter.  Just typing that sent shivers down my spine.  Grab my trusty toothbrush I keep in the holder just for purposes like this (never know when you will need to get in tiny crevices) and scrub my heart out. Freak out that some of it is not coming off the trap door, so I put it in the dishwasher and hit "sanitize".  A little piece of me dies when I  think how awesome it would be to put whole thing in there, but can't because of the cord.  A missed opportunity for a thorough and complete sanitization.

I finally concede it's as clean as it will get, so I stop scrubbing, but can't just let it sit there while the trap door is getting super-clean, so I spray it all down with more Clorox and let it sit.  Mold, you will die.  Satisfied, I head back to the sofa, sit back down, reach for my water.  Yup, empty cup.  And this is me medicated.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cloth diapers

Somewhere along the adoption time-line I decided cloth diapering would be a great idea.  I am not sure what I envisioned, but I am pretty sure it wasn't trying to figure out exactly what Cam had eaten to cause the particularly stubborn stain I just got done working on. 

I actually really enjoy cloth diapering.  I feel good about not putting another diaper on our already teetering landfills, and I don't really mind scrubbing shit stains out of diapers.  Saving $$$$ is kind of a bonus too, and really got Rob on-board with wrapping Cam's ass in fuzzy, soft fleece. Cleaning the diapers is kind of a zen experience for someone like me, a Type A personality with a touch of OCD about cleanliness.  I have spent many hours researching the best diapers, ointments that don't stain or repel, what detergents to use, what stain sticks don't work, and what diaper won't leak, leaving my baby a clean, contented, gurgling ball of cuteness.

Many people cloth diaper to save money, but I will let you in on a dirty little secret:  people that cloth diaper exclusively, become addicts.  Their "stashes" (seriously) are extensive, and they talk about them reverently.  I had heard that some cloth diapering moms kind of went a little nutty, buying up every brand they could get their mitts on and dishing about how they use one type for napping and another for nights.  It wasn't until last week, when I decided I wanted a specific diaper, one with two colors (pink & green) that I ventured onto a CD forum.  I posted my query, thinking these nut jobs will surely know where I can find a basic pink and green little number, then decided to browse around the forum while I waited for a reply.  Most forums I have ever visited show traffic coming and going, but this forum was like Grand Central Station, I knew a reply would come post-haste.

I feel as though I fell ass-backward into a den of addicts.  The chatter was specific, and the acronyms hurt my brain.  There are specific "stalkers", who just like the name implies, stalk the perfect high...I mean, diaper.  I honestly have no idea how some of these women tend to their children, what with the full-on job it takes to keep up with all the diaper chatting, finding, and even selling.  The latter, presumably to help them buy even more diapers. 

Then a reply to my query!  A kindly soul had given me a link to a lady who custom makes diapers from whatever fabric you like.  SAY WHA????  You mean I can specifically ask for a print, and thus a diaper will be made?  Perfection.  The diaper I seek is for Cam's 1st birthday.  A little surprise for family and friends, so I shall say no more on that subject.  If it comes out as planned, it will be beyond cute.  Now I am done talking about it.  It's in the vault.

Anyway, I ordered the diaper.  And maybe a few more.  It wasn't quite "first one is free, dude", but it might as well have been.  I blame Bum Genius and their wares.  They had to go make cloth diapering so functional and easy.  With cute colors.  It drove me into wanting more.  More in the way of prints, color combinations.  My "stash" now feels woefully incomplete and blah.  All I have are plain old colors, the same old diapers I look at every day, scrubbing and scrubbing.  Over the weekend I spent a fair amount of time (okay, all of my time when Cam was asleep) searching for diapers that would equal BG in quality, but rival them in style. 

I AM those nut jobs.  Pretty sure the money we save on buying disposables is now funneled into my new habit, or hobby, whatever Judgy McJudgerson.  Come February 9th, well, you'll just have to stay tuned to see.  Cuteness unrivaled.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Not the smartest move.

A few months back I posted about how I was diagnosed with ADHD this year, and that I had tried several medications.  Well, those tries seriously sucked.  Sucked to the point I was all "fuck this", and had written off my Psychiatrist.  It took me a few months and some cajoling form my therapist, but I went back, and agreed to a fourth medication.  This time, we hit pay dirt.

Having thought for several years that one of my (many) problems might be ADHD, I often wondered and fantasized...well, until something else flitted through my brain...what having focus might be like.  So, I pinned all my hopes and thoughts on what I thought it would be like if my ADHD were treated with medications.  Now, with some distance from the first three drugs, and with the fourth working very well, I can say what I thought I knew was wrong.  I thought straight, unmitigated focus would be my savior.  In reality, what my new medication has done for me is given me motivation.  It's as if all the ideas and thoughts in my head can now see the light of day, before they were stuck in an ever-lasting vortex of chaos and confusion.  Nothing ever got done, unless it REALLY interested me, and then it got done...until I lost interest.  Follow-through is something I am not good with.

Now it's as if the swirling vortex has slowed down a bit, just a bit.  But the bit allows me to get things done.  In a round-about way, I guess I have achieved a measure of focus, just not in the ways I expected.  I still get very distracted when doing things that hold no interest to me, the big difference is I will KEEP DOING IT because I am motivated to see it through.  One of the things I was confused about with the other drugs is that they all seemed to give me, what I liken to doing a few lines of cocaine, an energy that was hard to contain.  Since hyperactivity can be reversed with using stimulants, my brain reasoned that I would not feel so energized, just hyper-focused.  Boy, was I wrong.

This is where i get to the part of not being very smart.  The drug I am taking happens to have some unfortunate side-effects, and a possibility for being abused.  Now, I am an admitted recovering alcoholic.  I have addiction issues, issues with loving things that are usually not good for me.  I first noticed how having all this extra energy was effecting me.  Our house has never been so clean.  Projects I dithered with for YEARS got done in hours.  My to-do list is being whittled down, so I find myself energized with nothing to do.  Being on some ADHD forums, I had read that people frequently taken their meds during the week when they needed ot be at the top of their game, but didn't take them on weekends.  So when I first started taking the new stuff, I backed off on the weekends.  Then my addict brain rationalized to me "why not take it on weekends?  you could be more productive then too."  Hmmm.  Good point!  SO, I happily started taking them 7 days a week and all was great.

Until my dumb ass did not realize that 1) the prescription was running low; 2) I had no refills; 3) and my doc works odd hours.  By low, I mean I had three days left.  So I called my doc, left a message on Monday.  He wouldn't be in the office until Thursday.  Then the pharmacy would not have the meds until after 1500 on Thursday.  I had no meds on Thursday, and I was fit to be tied.  Poor Rob worked from home that day.  The agitation, anxiety, and just general shit-headedness I was experiencing was not fun...for anyone involved.   To top it off, it snowed that day, leaving me stuck in the house with a very bored, grumpy, whiny Cam.

Lesson learned.  I have marked it on my calendar.  I am reminding Rob to remind me.  I set a reminder on my phone.  I also learned that when I forget my ADHD meds, I want to rip Rob's arm off and beat him with it when he repeatedly sighs in disgust when I have snapped at him for asking stupid questions.  I bet it's a lesson he has learned to.

Monday, December 13, 2010

We send, they send.

After much wondering, I found out today that when we send things to Cam's first mom, our agency then forwards them onto her.  I had always assumed that N & J would have to come by and pick up whatever updates and pictures we sent in.  One of our social workers had emailed me back today about another blog I do, for N & J.  So I took the opportunity to ask her just how the stuff we send make sit's way to Cam's first family.  Seems the agency lets the first family decide how they want to do it:  contact agency, come in pick up; contact agency, have it sent to whatever address they want; or to just hold all correspondence until future notice.

I found out today that N & J have chosen to have everything we send to the agency, sent directly to them.  Not sure why, but this made me incredibly happy and serene.  Perhaps it's because it shows N really does want to know everything about Cam, and might one day want contact.  A few days ago I sent a picture of Campbell on Santa's lap and an ornament with her hand print and picture.  It didn't occur to me until just yesterday I should have sent a card too. 

So I mentioned that the SW had gotten back to me about my other blog.  I keep a blog of all things Campbell, so that her first family can keep up with her happenings and goings on.  The agency didn't think it was a good idea at this point to give them the blog address, that it may be overwhelming right now, and to wait until a more specific pattern of sharing has been set.  Makes sense.  So whenever I get word they are ready, the blog will have been in motion and they can catch up.

I've had people ask me why I bother making the effort to reach out to people who gave their child up for adoption.  It used to piss me off that anyone would even hint that it wasn't worth my time or effort.  Then it occurred to me, I am immersed in adoption.  I chose to educate myself on the ins and outs.  I am not, by any means, and authority on it, but I am more knowledgeable that the average Joe on the street.  I have found myself being an educator, and advocate.  Some days it's exhausting, others I feel blessed to be able to share  what I have learned and what we are living.

Why do I bother?  Because the 10 month old human being sleeping upstairs in my home deserves to know where she comes from.  Cam's past does not belong to me, it belongs to her.  How she came into this world is not a story I can tell.  I can tell her some facts, which were only relayed to me.  I cannot explain why she has such perfect lips, or why she favors perching on one foot and a knee over just sitting or standing.  As she grows older, I won't be able to answer even more questions.  Questions that I had/have about myself, but can ask my biological mother because she's right down the street.  It's also for N & J.  They brought this amazing little baby girl into this world, whatever the circumstances are that had them place her, they still deserve to know Campbell.  I do not know what it is like to have a child in this world, and not have contact with them.  For me, it would be unbelievably cruel to keep that information from N & J. 

A caveat:  as far as I know, N & J do not pose any threats to Campbell's safety.  If that were ever the case, steps would be taken on my end to protect Cam.  There are some hard truths about her adoption story, and again, it's her story.  I just hope I am up to the task of helping her through those difficult parts, and that N & J can help as well.  My only fear is that I will push too hard for something Cam doesn't want.

So a week or so before Christmas, I am feeling hopeful that our adoption will continue to open up and be strong and healthy.  That just may be my Christmas wish. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ten months today.

Cam is 10 months old today.  Seriously, time has flown by and I cannot believe my little Babycakes is two months away from being a one year old.  It defies all sound and reason just how fast time goes when you have a baby in the house.  Except those first four, god-awful, sleep-deprived months.  The kid wears 10 months pretty well:

And thank-you Gap for having your fleece 50% off yesterday, because really, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a one piece fleece outfit with ears on it.  Except maybe one with footies.

So Happy 10 months little Babycakes.  You bring immeasurable joy, wonder, and contentment to your Mama.  Even when you decide that when I am carrying you under your arms and you don't like it to go completely limp, I still think you are the Bee's Knees and the Cat's Pajamas.  And no, that day last week when you swirled your little hand in the dirty toilet water and I picked you up, and you proceeded to thrust your hand in my face, I am not budging on the fact that you delight me even at your worst moments.  But Dixon (boy Pug) would like it if you would stop yanking him by the collar to chew his tags, and if you would throw more food on the floor.  Zelda (girl Pug) would appreciate it if you would stop trying to eat her food and swim in her water bowl.  You must be doing something right with the cats, because last night we couldn't find Alabama, until I peeked into your room, and saw her curled up next to you sleeping in the crib.  Clarence loves you because you let him steal food from your highchair tray.  And I am pretty sure Daddy gets up every morning with a smile on his face, because he knows he gets to spend the best part of your day with you, before Mama can drag her insomniac-ass out of bed in the morning.  Please keep clapping, chattering, clucking your tongue, pivoting on your knee, bouncing your head to the music, loving your broccoli, and grunting and hip-thrusting when you don't like something.  Please stop standing in the tub and giving me small heart attack after small heart attack and hating on your car seat.  those things get old.  But most of all, please don't ever stop being my lovey, snuggly little Munch.  Mama loves you.

Cam meets Santa, is not impressed.

Cam met Santa yesterday.  We went to the mall to give Daddy some quiet, since he's working from home.  I was shocked to find there was no line for Santa.  I took it as a good omen when the three year-old in front of us rushed up to Santa and hopped into his lap as her grandmother stood there dumbfounded.  "She's usually scared of Santa, this is odd."  When I walked up with Cam, she reached for him, so I thought *maybe* we'd get a good shot.

Something to know about Cam:  she will not smile willingly for any camera.  If it weren't for digital photography, we'd be stuck with 1000's of pictures of our darling daughter looking slack-jawed and confused.  The sweet girl doing the photos chirped out to Cam, imploring her to smile.  She squeaked a frog, waved her hands, all to no avail.  She snapped about a dozen pics.  Every single one resembled the pic above.  The only variation is the placement of the hands.

Cam tugged Santa's beard (it's real!), perhaps imparted a few of her secrets, and stared at him and us, as if we had all lost our damn minds.  When I came home and showed Rob the pictures he laughed hard and long.  A shared "joke".  We have deleted 1000's of pictures of Campbell over the last 10 months.  When we get a pic of her smiling you can bet there were about 20 just like it, but without the smile.  "The Look" is quintessential Cam:  observant and thinking.  We can tell when something has caught her attention and she is intrigued, because The Look immediately comes across her face.  We see it probably 20 times a day.

This time, perhaps she was puzzling out that the her mother caved to societal pressure by starting The Big Lie.  You see, I am on the fence about Santa and his height challenged minions.  On the one hand, it's a time-honored tradition of lying to our children about a fat guy distributing toys with the help of fantastical flying deer.  On the other is truth and honesty that Mama & Daddy go further into debt to buy toys that seem so awesome all wrapped up and pretty on Christmas morn, but turn out to be cheap crap and easily broken.  My quandary is borne not of a heart of dark black coal, but of someone who does not believe in the super-natural to begin with.  That, and my brother, Andrew ruined Santa for me at the tender age of five.  By locking me where my parents stored all of "Santa's booty, in a crawl space under the stairs.  It was the same year I asked Santa for a drum, so while I was extremely pleased to see that drum I was horrified to realize that it had all been a lie.  The forced visits with the scary, huge, hairy beast of a man were awful.  I remember the Santa of my youth took up temporary residence in a trailer outside of our local Sears.  You entered at one end of the trailer, and had to walk the long length of the trailer before you got to Santa.  A gauntlet of hell for me.  So upon realizing Santa was straight bullshit?  A cynic was born.  A cynic who hates liars and lying.

And that drum?  Andrew broke it about an hour after I finally got to play with it on Christmas morning.  Something I lord over him to this day.  I love my big brother, but still think Santa is a crock of shit.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Of abrupt departures and returns.

So I bailed out of here in October.  No word, nothing.  And I am sorry for that.  Fear struck fast and hard.  I am a very open person, and if asked I will give you the truth, usually brutally.  But I hate conflict, and with several of my posts I knew there could potentially be BIG conflict.  So I ran away.  With about two months off to ponder and miss my blog, I came to a place where I could be at least somewhat comfortable if people in my real life happened upon my ramblings.  I thought I was fearful of my family and friends stumbling upon this blog, but I puzzled out that it's not that.

What really scared me was Cam's first family finding this blog.  And it still does.  Not because I am trying to hide anything from them, but because I want to write about my life, and not hurt them in the process.  It's taken me a while to figure out that I am not in control (shit!) of other people's thoughts and feelings.  I still have a bit of trouble with that.  Control FREAK.  There is probably a step about that, but I have yet to work them (bits of shame trailing...).

I've done a lot of "soul" searching the last couple of months about what kind of parent I want to be and how Cam's life will be impacted.  For me it has been very important that Cam know as much about her first family as possible.  When we were presented with a possible placement back in February, an open adoption didn't seem very likely and honestly, it was one of the last things on my mind.  There were about two weeks of ups and downs, not knowing if it would work out.  We found out less than 24 hours before we were to pick her up from the hospital.  Our SW told us that we would be able to meet Cam's first mom when we got there.  I was so nervous, but very excited.  About five minutes from the hospital, SW called back to let us know mom couldn't bear to watch us leave with her baby girl.  Both Rob and I understood, but I was disappointed.  I truly wanted to lay eyes on the first mom that Campbell knew...but I was also a little relieved, because I wasn't sure how I could watch her go through so much pain, leaving her child behind.

I wrote letters about every two months and sent them to the agency with pictures.  I'd occasionally call to check and see if fmom had called for updates.  They heard nothing, we heard nothing.  All contact goes through the agency, so when the agency stopped calling, and our follow-up visits ended, I just let it go.  Still wrote the letters and sent the pictures, but wasn't hounding the poor social workers.  Rob thought it would be years before we heard from Cam's first mom, I was more optimistic.  :)

Last month the agency called to tell us N (first mom) had written us a letter.  The SW talked to Rob, so I got the gist:  it had some painful things written in it, things that might upset us.  That we should brace ourselves, but they know how empathetic we are, so keep that in mind.  The letter was then forwarded a few days later.  That wait was almost as nerve-wracking as the two week wait to get word on whether we would get to be the parents of this spectacular baby girl.

The SW wasn't kidding.  The letter was extremely hard to read.  N had a very tough decision to make when she decided on adoption.  She's married, has four boys.  Her husband may not have been the father.  To make matters more wrenching, what took so long for us to take placement is that her husband was having a hard time with the adoption plan.  Both of Cam's first parents (even though N's husband may have not been the father, he had rights to the baby in our state), in our eyes, were conscientious, deliberate, and very loving.  We hoped that J, N's husband, was Cam's father, because he was by all accounts a terrific father and husband.  Qualities anyone would be proud to have in their child.

N's letter touched on her profound sorrow, the grief her husband is experiencing, made mention of Cam's four brothers.  She also had questions, hopes, and fears.  I read it once, aloud to my husband, sobbing.  He then read it.  After that he tucked it back in it's envelope, and I didn't pull it back out for at least a month.  All this time I had wanted, hoped that a letter would come.  I was in no way prepared for the punch it dealt.  I thought I knew what it would be like.  Each evening as I held my daughter in my arms, I marveled at how perfect she was.  Always knowing that if not for another woman's crisis, she would not be here.  That while I was learning every coo, cry, and stretch, someone else was missing them.  In a way I was grieving for Cam's lost family, her birthright.  Some nights I felt confident that I was fulfilling the promises we made in our "Dear Expectant Parent" letter.  Other nights I felt like a fraud.  Perhaps the letter crept into my mind, and nestled itself right up against my feelings of inadequacy, because how else could I explain not being able to look at it again for so long?  It took me about three weeks to even TRY to write N back.  So jumbled were my thoughts and intentions, I started and stopped the letter dozens of times.  At one point, I saved the letter, closed out Word, and left it for a week.  When I came back, I had no recollection of anything that I had written.  Sounded like what I would say, sounded like my voice, but I could not remember putting those particular words together.

I left the letter as I had written it, but added a post script.  Pretty sure the thing was at least four pages long.  If you hadn't noticed, I can get wordy, and with Cam, I can write all day.  I touched on N's questions, hopes, and fears, but mostly I talked about our daughter.  The milestones (almost walking...5 teeth!) and the mundane (hates diaper changes...beginning to show a distaste for certain foods).  N had sent a picture of each of her boys, all ridiculously handsome, and clearly Cam's kin.  N is 100% sure that J is Cam's father (yea!), and the proof was staring me back in those photos.  N's youngest just turned 2, and is the spitting image of our girl. 

Now I want more.  More letters.  More pictures.  Histories.  All of it, the good, the bad, the ugly.  Part of N's letter dealt with shame and guilt.  Every family has that, and N IS my family now.  Linked by a beautiful almost 10 month old baby girl sleeping upstairs in my home.  I get excited, nervous, terrified at what will be with this extension of our family.  Mostly, right now I am scared.  Scared that N will back off, retreat from the hard work that will come with an open adoption.  Scared that I might be the one to pull back.  Scared that one day Cam will be pissed as all hell that I bothered to mix our families together as one.

So, I have returned to my blog to capture these moments in time.  I want, need to preserve it so that everything will have a context later.  Right now, I am in a hopeful place.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Officically official

We finalized the adoption of Cam this past Friday.  It happened a lot faster than we had anticipated, Rob was just hoping to have it done by the end of the year, so we are pretty damn pleased to have it done.  I really didn't think I would be that emotional about the finalization, because let's face it:  the kid has been here 8 months and is my daughter in heart, mind, and spirit.  But when the phone rang two weeks ago (I know...FAST!) and Rob asked me if October 8th was okay, I was all "Shit yeah!".  Then I got all trembly and my heart started racing.

So here we are, in the judge's chambers:

To get us to that smiling point was a long haul.  The court we chose to finalize in is a good 40 miles away, and we live in an area that has bewildering, awful, truly shitty traffic.  So that meant I had to have my ass up and ready by 0645.  Being an insomniac who takes drugs to catch a few Z's makes getting up at that hour not fun.  Add to that the nervousness and my problems with anxiety, and you have a recipe for disaster.

 I cannot state how much I love my husband.  Or appreciate what a great husband and father he is.  But.  BUT.  The man may drive me back to the bottle at some point.  To illustrate, I will have to digress a bit.  I hate dressing up, therefore my closet is sparse on the dress-up clothes.  Example:  I was married in an Old Navy linen pant "suit".  Got the picture?  Knowing that I wanted to look nice, and not at all like the schleppy, but comfortable,  I went shopping at Talbot's.  It took me 40 minutes of wandering aimlessly for me to acquiesce and ask for help.  Asking for help in Talbot's is akin to saying "here, just take my credit card and charge $400."  I knew Rob would want to throttle the ever-living shit out of me, so I started rationalizing that I really did need "adult" clothes.  Even if that meant that kind of money for one outfit.  So the nice lady picked out a "not too dressy, but not so casual" outfit and had me ready to go in under 10 minutes.  Pants, jacket, ruffle-y shirt, belt, shoes.  THAT kind of shopping was fun.  I'd like my unlimited funds now, please.

So that was last Monday, fast-forward to Friday morning.  Rob is hopping out of the shower, and something told me (okay, experience) to wait and see what shirt and tie he was going to pick to go with his suit.  Rob has gained a bit of weight in the last year or so.  He used to be a cook for twenty years, always moving around, stayed pretty skinny.  He quit that job to work in the tech industry.  On his ass all day.  So he got a little pudgy.  Pudgy enough to make his suit pants look like the button might blow from all the pressure put on it.  He stood there, gut over-flowing, telling me he would suck it up (I guess literally).  No way martyr man, no way you are going to bust out of your drawers in front of the judge.  So we quickly decide that he is just going to have to wear khakis.  Which haven't been dry-cleaned or pressed.  None of his shirts will fit aorund his thick-ass neck, so he tells me he will just leave the top button undone, and "the tie will cover it up".  Before my head could explode, I hopped in the shower to mutter to myself about having to dress TWO children.

I get myself all gussied up in my new clothes, while Rob dresses Cam.  We decided that since we had a long haul, we'd take both cars one with me, Cam, my sister-in-law, and best friend.  Rob would take his Dad.  As I was busy getting all the stuff we needed together, I didn't bother to make sure what the rest of Rob's outfit looked like.  Probably, my brain knew subconsciously that I really DID NOT want to know, so he left to pick up his Dad.  Two hours later we meet back up, and my husband looks like a teenage boy who attends prep school.  Tie all askew, shirt barely tucked in, black SUIT shoes, brown belt, and a navy blazer.  At least his fly was zipped.

Now, I have been trying to adopt a healthier attitude, one that over-looks imperfection.  This Type A has a hard time with that, but I managed to remember that while my clothes were fabulous, my hair looked like I put a bowl on it and had cut it myself.  Stupidly, I waited until the day before to get my hair done, when I know it takes a week to grow in "right" after a cut.  Because I am, really and truly not a girly-girl, my expertise in doing my own hair is limited to blow drying upside down, and letting it fall into place.  The haircut my lovely hair dresser gave me was awesome.  What I did to it the next day should be considered criminal.

So, to get that picture with all of us smiling, there may have been some gritted teeth and a dollop of resentment.  Except for Cam, who just thought being in that judge's chambers with all the attention on her was the bee's knees.

Welcome to the family (officially) my little Munch.  May you please learn to dress stylishly, despite having us as parents.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

She's breaking my spirit.

Among the many things wrong with me, insomnia is certainly one of the least pleasant.  While I had no problem asking for meds for my depression, I resisted all attempts by doctors to give me meds for sleep.  Maybe on a certain level I was afraid to take something habit forming, like say a case of beer and a goodly amount of Grand Marnier.  Or a fifth of bourbon.  Whatever my malfunction, I finally caved and decided this past June, enough was enough.  I needed some damn sleep, the little bit I had been getting before Cam came home was now non-existent. 

Poor Rob was sleep-deprived too.  The man loves his sleep, and sleeps like a log when left to his own devices.  We made a deal early on after Cam came home, I had all feedings until 0400, anything after that, Rob had it.  I am a night owl, Rob is an early riser.  There were many nights I just stayed up until 0200 and then crashed, hoping I would sleep until 0900.  Never happened.  I was in school full-time, had my internship, and a new baby.  I was beyond crazy.  I was medicated for the depression, but it wasn't doing much good.  The doc doubled my dose, and I was at least able to stand in the same room as other humans and not want to rip their heads off.  To say I was irritable was a huge understatement.  I don't know how I am still married, because Rob took the brunt of my crazy.  I am normally very anal about things, what most would consider a control freak, which is pretty common in alcoholics.  Think of an alcoholic you know, you could probably think of at least five ways that person is shit-house crazy about things being in order.  That's me.  With a new human dwelling among us, I was at my Type A best.  Rob is anything but Type A.  As care-free and relaxed as they come.  His attention to detail is limited to non-fiction books and fried foods.  He always knew I was somewhat crazy, he just had no idea until the baby came home.

Those months where Cam needed to get up several times a night to feed were brutal.  By the time she was four months old, feedings were down to two a night, which is when I started buying up every sleep training book you could find.  I was determined to get Cam on a schedule all three of us could live with, with as little pain as possible.  If you have made it this far and you are a parent, you are probably laughing your ass off right now.  I really can't blame you.  The ignorance of a new parent is immeasurable.  At least once a day I am confronted with something I swore I would never do, and go right ahead and do it.  Pretty sure dozens of people behind us in church were disgusted the first time Cam's bink fell to the floor and I gave it a cursory wipe on my pant leg before giving it back to her.  In one afternoon I fed her a french fry, ice cream, roast beef, and bread...not generally thought of as foods for 7 month old's.  I regularly let her crawl all over any flat surface without thinking twice.  Think disgusting mall floors. 

So, when it came time for sleep training I swore I was not going to let her cry it out.  I firmly believe in attachment parenting, and crying it out just seemed to fly in the face of it.  Plus, the kid is just pitiful with the crying.  The lip....the tears.  My heart could take no more than 10 minutes, 15 tops.  Regularly I stay up until 0200, just waiting for her to wind herself up.  Sometimes it's easy, sticking bink back in her mouth, giving a little pat on the back.  Lately, she's been teething, or a demon is growing in her, because that kid is only consolable in our arms.  My sleep meds knock me out within five minutes of taking them, so if she stays asleep until 0200, I dose myself and head to sleepyville.  Which means Rob is left to deal with anything after 0200, which gives me a great deal of anxiety.  He is the only one bringing home the bacon, so I feel AWFUL if he has to do anything between the hours of 2200 and 0400, thus the anxiety.  Lately, I have been anxious and irritable.  Remnants of shitty depression and too little sleep. 

Cam is a terrible, terrible sleeper.  Ever since we brought her home she has been a twitchy, noisy, moving baby.  There was no way we could co-sleep, because that kid was all over the place, even at 17 days old.  We marveled at how we would put her in one spot in the crib, and she would be turned around at the other end.  There is no genetic link, but I swear to god, the kid could hear a pin drop on a cushion five miles away....just like me.  It's only gotten worse as she's gotten older.  I told Rob last night, I wish our video monitor would show a map of her movements through the night, kind of like our GPS and how where we drive leaves cookies on the map.  Along with being a twitchy moving baby comes frequent wakings.  I have since day one RUN to her side, to make sure that she KNOWS we are meeting her needs.  She has figured this out around the fourth month or so.  Really she has trained me to come to her, and I have performed very well up to this point.  Since the teething began, I broke protocol when she would cry out.  Instead of just putting bink back in her mouth and patting then leaving, if she wouldn't settle I would.....shit, I would pick her up.  I admit it, I am an enabler.  That kid will sit right up, bounce up and down on her cute little bum and cry real tears.  I have been known to whisper in her ear "don't tell your father".  This has made my sweet, smiley daughter into a monster.

Last night, I merely opened the door to her room to make sure she was breathing, and the head popped up.  A wide smile crossed her face, seeing that her favorite plaything had arrived.  I lovingly placed her back in her sleep position, told her "sleepy-time", covered her up and walked out of the room.  Before I stepped away form the crib, an exaggerated pause then the wailing began.  I shut the door, and bolted down stairs.  Have I mentioned that I have never made her cry for more than 15 minutes at a time?  Well, she knew it and proceeded to throw all her baby energy into letting me know that her plight was UNACCEPTABLE.  I watched on the monitor as she lay on her back kicking her feet in rhythm to her staccato cries.  Flailing arms.  Outrage.  Rob laughed, because he thought I was going to break and go soothe her.  I didn't.  I held firm.  And by firm I mean I turned the monitor around so I couldn't see it and plugged my iPod in.  I may have some residual deafness from how loud I had to crank it to drown her out.  It took an hour and 45 minutes of straight crying before she submitted.  Triumphant at last! 

Rob had to be at work at 0630.  Unusual in that he works from home usually, and lets me sleep in until 0900 or later.  This insomniac's best sleep comes between 0400 and 0700 without the drugs, with, I can sleep until 0900.  Last night I didn't take any meds, because Rob needed his sleep.  I was awake ALL.  FUCKING. NIGHT.  LONG.  When Cam stirred at 0430, I ran to get her and brought her back to our bed, which I never do.  I thought maybe she'd sleep.  Nope, but guess what?  I taught her AGAIN that I will come rescue her from sleepy-time.  Sigh.

Nap time today.  She just fell asleep after screaming for nearly two hours.  My ears are still ringing.  The monitor is still turned around.  I can do this.  My nearly 8 month old little ball of Id will not break me.  It's times like this I wonder how the fuck I have stayed sober.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Man, it's white here.

I live in a place that I never knew was SO white.  It makes me sound like an idiot, but when you are white, chances are you don't really notice it, because our society is geared toward making whitey feel comfortable.  Rob and I really started to take notice when we were mid-way through the adoption process, because at one point we were confronted with what "type" of baby we were willing to accept.

Sounds unsavory, no?  It made me feel as if we were placing an order for a sandwich, and not for a human life.  The sheet that the agency gave us covered race/ethnicity as well as things like HIV/AIDs, mental illness, Hep A/B/C, etc.  We were open on everything, except race.  There we checked off the boxes for Caucasian, Hispanic, and Asian.  What made us not check off the African American box was a discussion about where we live.  A little back-story on why that came about.

Our agency is fantastic, and requires parents to go through parenting classes.  My first instinct was to hem and haw, I was a nanny, "I know kids!!"  The class was less about parenting skill and more about parenting children that were of a different ethnicity or color than yourself.  It was an amazing class, one that should really be required of all parents.  At one point the instructor gave us each a cup and different color beads.  Each color stood for a different race:  white, obvious, black, obvious, brown for Hispanic or Indian; yellow for Asian; red for Native American.  We were then asked about 100 questions:  what color is your primary doctor?  color of accountant? lawyer? neighbors, teachers? etc.  We went through a LOT of people in our lives.  At the end we were told to look at our cups.  No one at the table had more than 6 beads TOTAL in their cups that were colored.  It was really eye opening and a little sickening.  I felt like such an asshole.

So, when we were checking off those boxes, Rob turned to me and said we cannot in good conscience raise an A.A baby in this town.  Now, where we live isn't just white.  We have a pretty good Hispanic and African American population.  It's just segregated.  Like from the 1950's.  How this escaped me until I was THIRTY EIGHT YEARS OLD is more than a little embarrassing.  Sadly, I am in pretty good company, because most of our whitey friends have no idea what we are talking about.  Sigh. 

If you have seen the pictures of Cam, you will notice her lovely brown skin.  What is it they say about the best laid plans?  Something about being fucked into oblivion, I think.  When the agency sent us an email last February about the possibility of a baby boy, we were really excited.  He was an already born situation, in Florida, and white.  We put our hats in the ring for the little fellow, and waited to hear back from the agency.  After a week and no word, I was practically delirious.  I HATE "bothering" people, so I felt like an asshole emailing our social worker about the baby, but there was no way I could live without knowing for another day.  When she emailed me back it was to apologize, but the mom had chosen someone else..BUT there was another mom and baby.

Would we like to be considered for another baby born situation?  Baby's mom is Caucasian/Hispanic, dad is Caucasian.  I practically levitated to the phone to scream at the poor social worker: "YES! YES! YES!"  Baby had a few issues, and would need to stay in the hospital for a little while, but was overall pretty darn healthy.  We found out within a few days that mom chose us, and we were OVER THE MOON.  I couldn't wait to get my hands on her, but there were some obstacles with dad.  It would be 17 days before I held my daughter in my arms.  The longest 2.5 weeks of my life.  And in those weeks were some revelations that dad may not be Caucasian, but Hispanic.  Then a few days later,  mom's husband is black, but were told at first that he was assuredly not the father.  At this point, Rob and I had already fallen in love with the idea of our baby, THIS kid, no matter what, was our daughter.  We agreed somewhere in the middle of those two weeks we would move out of town, we'd move ANYWHERE to bring THIS baby home.  Nurses kept saying the baby looked white.

When I pulled the blanket back on Cam at the hospital, it was clear, this baby was not white, but a beautiful brown color.  With lots of black hair and big dark eyes.  I sweet, sleeping, beautiful little baby.  I asked the social worker if she looked like her mom (we were supposed to meet mom that day, but didn't...a story for later), and she said "she looks like her brothers".  Mom and husband already had four boys, so our daughter had four brothers!  I took SW's comment to mean that she looks like mom AND husband.  And from everything I have heard about husband, I HOPE he is my daughter's father.

So, back to this very white town/existence we live.  Friday night we went to the symphony.  The very old and very white were in attendance.  I counted four brown faces, not including the orchestra (much more diverse).  Saturday night we went to our local Yacht Club, a place I had enjoyed for as long as I can remember.  Took sailing lessons as a kid, Pop taking us for dinner there a lot.  Was sitting enjoying the lovely view of the harbor, and what some might term "the early bird special" when I turned to Rob and said "Christ, again, look at the whiteness!"  I mean yeah, YACHT CLUB does not scream diversity.  These last two days have just driven home the fact:  we need to get the hell up out of here.  My brown baby deserves better than this.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Guilt, it's not just for Catholics.

I left my husband and daughter to go have "date night" with my best friend.  We are both new moms, both through adoption, both this year, although she wins the prize.  She adopted two toddlers.  TWO.  Toddlers.  I bow to her.

To make sure we don't run off and leave our husbands holding the bag, they get parenting duty all to themselves one night a week.  So we women folk can go play bingo.  That's right, we play bingo.  And we're not 80, living in a residential care facility.  We both have our bingo accouterments.  Bobble heads, hers Justin Timberlake; mine The Trinity Killer from "Dexter".  What?  He's a FICTIONAL serial killer.  Plus the ten or so daubers between us, because you never know which color might be the "lucky" color.

Our bingo game is held at the local Synagogue.  The Jews that run this game must be making a mint, because their is no other way the lovely people that work bingo night could do so without being heavily compensated.  I never knew that people could take bingo so seriously.  What started out as my driving by and seeing the "Bingo is Back!!!" sign and wondering if I should give it a try has turned into something that cannot be missed.

Yes, we are two of the youngest players there.  It is also true that neither one of us NEEDS to win bingo in order to say, pay our rent, or feed a possible "habit" (if you catch my drift).  The bingo crowd at Kneseth Israel is quite colorful, to say the least.  Each week we come hoping to win back the money we spent on cards, but we end up getting a floor show that is worth twice that amount.  Who knew that bingo could bring out the craven bitch in little old ladies?  Or that the hapless dude calling the numbers would get heckled?  We certainly didn't, but it gives us plenty to snicker at.  There is "Crazy Cat Lady", not sure why we named her this, but she is also the one that constantly talks aloud to no one in particular.  "Misery Guts" is a hard-looking woman with a deep, deep voice who looks like she would slit your throat to win that $25 prize.  These two are usually responsible for most of the bingo drama.  When the poor man trying to break the rules down was speaking, Crazy began hollering at him about how the rules should be changed, at which point Misery blasted her with "shut the hell up and let the man SPEAK!"

One night early on, I turned to my friend and said "this must be like penance for the Jews, because no one would willingly work this."  It's become a running joke, because every person that has worked bingo night has been verbally assaulted if not straight out bullied.  When Misery was upset about the numbers being called tonight, she yelled at the caller to "shake his balls up", then demonstrated by hopping up and down in her seat, presumably shaking her big, hairy balls.  The caller turned every shade of red, and probably wished and swore he'd never break another Jewish rule again.

Waiting for me when I got home was a still and quiet house.  Three cats outside doing whatever it is cats do at night; two slumbering Pugs, doing exactly what Pugs do best; and a sleeping baby and husband.  A perfect ending to an evening of debauched gambling down at the Synagogue.  Mama's batteries are re-charged!  Also, waiting on my computer was an apology from my mom, and an offer to babysit Saturday night while she sends us to dinner... on her.  I am a WINNER tonight!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The hell that is teething.

Let me preface this by saying Cam is an amazing little baby.  She only really cries when hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.  She is a happy baby, who will give you a wide smile whether a friend or someone she has just met. 

However, when cutting a top front tooth, she is a beast of a baby.  Beastly, I tell you!  Whiny.  Demanding.  Mercurial.  In other words, not a lot of fun to be around.  She will be happily cooing in my lap one moment, then thrashing about angry as all get out the next.  We've seen flashes of this temper before, but she was much younger.   When we brought her home, her nickname for the first several months was "The Angry Hornet".  Going from perfectly placid to a shrieking banshee the next.  We were so happy when she grew out of that "stage".

Lulled into what we thought would be a lasting personality, around month 4, Cam became our happy, contented little Babycakes.  We still had our issues with sleep, mainly waking and not being able to soothe herself back to sleep, but a sweet, smiley little human.

Still, when she cut her two bottom teeth last month, she never displayed any of the  beastly behavior we have come to abhor as of late.  Those bottom two teeth just appeared one day.  One day, I stuck my finger in her mouth and was shocked to feel her little baby raptor teeth poking back.  It was a joyous moment.  As if the child had solved the world's peace problems.  I smiled and cried, clucking at her how brilliant she was.  Inside my mind was clicking another category in which my child excelled:  never had reflux, not a terrible sleeper, no colic, no illnesses (knock wood), met milestones like a champ, good eater.  In other words, an "easy baby".

Nothing about Cam has been easy this past week.  The blood curdling screams have almost sent me back to the bottle (joke).  Those screams are reserved for when we are riding in the car, and I can do absolutely jack shit.  The kind of screams that make her gag on her own spit, and I nearly drive off the road because I can't tell if she's choking to death or not. Until the next volley of screams start. 

The whining, THE WHINING has plucked my last nerve.  Every little transition has become a battle.  The bibs are no match for the copious amounts of drool.  Outfit changes several times a day mean I get to wrestle an unbelievably strong 7.5 month old, all the while gritting my teeth saying awful, dreadful things such as "yes, I know I am the worst mother alive.  It sure does suck to have dry, clean clothes to little shit."  Yes, I have called her that far more times than I would like to admit.  Mama's Little Shit!

I don't believe in god, but if I did, I would be praying like a mother fucker for this little bastard tooth to break free of it's gummy home, and bring my sweet, smiley baby back to me.  

Friday, September 24, 2010

There is hope.

Overheard on the playground this morning:

Four-year-old girl:  Ow, owee, owee, owee!  (little girl had run into a little boy when he stopped running abruptly)

Four-year-old boy:  Sorry Astrid! (stops, running, looks at her, and says in earnestness)

Girl:  It's okay. (still a little sad)

Wow.  Good parenting to both of those parents for teaching their kids empathy and respect.  Coincidentally, I was on my way to my Developmental Psych class, in which we are learning about this age group and cognitive growth.  I'd say these two kids are doing okay. 

Now, how would this go with, say two 39 year olds?

Woman: Ow, that hurt.

Man: Oh, sorry.  Didn't see you there. (not looking at her, certainly not sincere)

Woman:  Gee, thanks.  (sarcasm dripping)

Man:  I said I was sorry!  Jesus.  (completely irritated)

Where is the disconnect?  How do we get from simple decency, to outright failure to acknowledge to thinly veiled hostility?  Ah, yes, subtext.  Hidden resentments, all that fun grown-up stuff.  This could be a scene from our household on any given day, and I know I am not alone here, folks. 

I think I will act like a four year-old for the rest of the day, and see how it goes.  Peace.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's been a day

My cat needs to see a cardiologist.  Said cat also has a huge bite wound on his chest, probably from his sister, which cost me a crap load of money to get shaved and cleaned, which I pretty much did myself.  Cam has been whiny all day, maybe more teeth coming in, not sure why.  I learned a lesson in pre-school tuition: it sucks.  I open a letter from one of my doctors, it says they are sending me to collections if I don't send them the balance of my account in 14 days.  The balance?  $5.43.  I forgot my psychiatrist appointment today.  Finally, I think Rob may be coming down with something, because he refused ice cream (!!) and went to bed right after dinner.

In "olden" days even one of those events alone would have had me draining several bottles of wine.  Alas, not an option any more.  Instead, I drown my weary sorrows in a pint of ice cream.  And maybe some cheesy poofs.  Then spend the rest of the evening surfing the internet instead of doing homework or doing the reading I keep telling myself I am going to do.  I haven't been to an A.A. meeting in four long days. Was planning on going to my noon meeting tomorrow, but guess what?  I forgot I had an Open House at the grad school I want to apply to.  Ugh. 

Missing appointments and forgetting them are something I just don't do.  I am an organizer, and as such I carry a calendar with me at all times, and also keep one up in the kitchen in case I forget to check mine.  I don't need my therapist to tell me I am stressed (but she did), and the fact that I forgot the psychiatrist is really pissing me off.  Diagnoses:  Depression and ADHD.  I think I need a medication change, and it took forever to get this appointment.  Plus, the doc told me that because the practice he is with has been so busy, they are raising rates on October 1st.  Therefore I was squeezed in.  What kind of shrink tells you that practice is booming, so they are raising rates?  Thanks crazies!  I already have a resentment against this man, so it may give me that little push to find a new doc.  I tried taking three different ADHD meds this summer, and none worked.  Thought I was really losing my mind with the added effect of a cocaine-like rush. Rob was the unfortunate one, as one of the drugs had the pleasant side-effect of irritability (already have enough, thanks) and unmitigated hostility.  During the entire summer, not once did this doctor follow-up to see how I was doing, in fact, he told me to email him any concerns I had, then left me a lengthy voice mail telling me that I really needed to make an appointment if I wanted to talk about medication.  Um, at $250/hour, and you don't take insurance?  Fuck you, dude.

So, I have been saying the Serenity Prayer like crazy and will commence with ice cream eating henceforth.  Nighty night!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I just knew it.

I deserve it for being so smug.

Cam and the universe decided to pay me back for being a braggart.  Last night, not only did she not sleep through the night, but she made sure no one else did either.  My god, the child has found her inner screamer, and was a very angry baby.  New to this parenting gig, I figured that level of intensity meant she needed some Ibuprofen for teething.  Maybe that took the edge off, but I am fairly sure it acted like speed in her system, because she was up four more times after that.  Being an insomniac, I take some drugs to sleep, so after 0230, she was Rob's problem.  Problem for me is that being an alcoholic, the medication I take for my insomnia needs to be non-habit forming.  To that end it's great.  It gets me to sleep, but will only keep me there if not disturbed.  A 7 month old screaming bloody murder is disturbing.  The meds make me aware of what's going on, but I have zero coordination and feel drunk as hell.  I love the irony.

Cam woke at her normal time, got fed...again.  Rob can only take so much screaming before he gives into the beast and feeds her.  Sigh.  Rob normally works from home, but had to go into the office today.  I imagine he feels like I do:  worn the fuck out.  As I lay sleeping, he sneak attacked me with a smiling baby, dropped her on the bed and made a hasty retreat while hollering she won't be ready for a nap for another hour or so.  I tried my best to ignore her squeals of delight and cooing.  I'd hoped she would take the hint and take a nap.  Fat chance.  Got my haggard ass out of bed, played with her for 20 minutes, and she fell asleep.  I hurried her up to her crib and crawled back in bed, only to lay there, mind racing.  I think I was just starting to drift off when I heard her pissed off wails of protest.

It's been a long day already.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I never knew how fast 30 days could go by when I was in my first year of recovery.  It wasn't so much that I struggled so hard to stay sober that first year, I just remember thinking it took a long time to count down the next thirty days. 

Cam is 7.5 months old.  She is our first and only child, and as such, is the center of our universe.  Or, at least mine.  Can't speak for Rob.  In the past ten days or so she has gotten two teeth, can nearly stand on her own, is doing a sort of crab-walk crawl, and finally slept through the night last night.  She clearly knows her name, has proven she understands some commands "sip?  bite?  stand?", and is genuinely showing preference for one of the dogs and a cat.

Milestones.  They are blowing by so fast.  I went in several times last night to stare at her while she slept.  Our child is a restless sleeper.  We brought her home at 17 days old, from the moment we put her in the bassinet, she would inch her way around it.  I watch her now on the video monitor, and she is never in the same place when I look back.  Last night, while watching her, she was rocking back and forth, like she does, clearly asleep, clutching her blanket.  Like a big kid.  My heart about exploded.

When people tell you it goes fast, they aren't lying.  I get stopped daily when she is with me, people coo over her then tell me to enjoy it, their child is (5...10...24) and that they miss their babies.  I enjoy Cam everyday.  She's easy to love and cherish.  Adoption brought our baby girl to us, and we are still amazed that we get to parent THIS child.  Leaving the hospital with her, I hopped in the back next to the car seat, and looked at my husband in awe:  "they gave us a baby".  In a reverent tone, he said back:  "they gave us a baby".   We would say that to each other as short-hand for:  "wow, can you believe we are parents?!  How did this happen so fast?  This little human is beyond comprehension."

I can't think of how truly blessed I am with this child and husband without thinking about how my sobriety is the key to it all.  This life I lead.  The places I have come from and places I will go, with my daughter looking to me, wouldn't be possible without sobriety.  Sometimes I like to think my sobriety is a separate part of me, apart from Rob and apart from Cam.  After all, I don't take them to meetings, they've met only a handful of people that have touched my life in the past three years.  It struck me hard last night watching Cam sleep:  she wouldn't be here if I were still drinking, and it felt like someone had punched me straight in the gut.  Absolutely took my breath away that there was a possibility in an alternate universe where I wouldn't be parent to THIS child.

So for today, I mark Cam's sleeping through the night in her baby book, but I also make note that today I am sober.  Milestones, I guess we both are blowing through some.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gratitude List

1) Cooler temperatures
2) Chocolate on chocolate doughnuts
3) Sunday afternoon meetings
4) Naps - for Cam
5) Freshly washed dogs
6) Beef kabobs
7) HD TV
8) Being a Unitarian Universalist
9) Spell check
10) My awesome husband

Friday, September 17, 2010

You've Got to be Kidding Me

Rob and I have not taken a vacation together in about 18 months. Mostly due to finances. Going through IVF and adopting a baby are not cheap things to do, so we've...sacrificed. My sacrifice has been to whine about it and pout. It's a long way from where I was 3.5 years ago when I first realized I had to quit drinking: "fuck, what the hell am I going to do on vacations???!"

Our first vacation post- drink was to Hawaii. I was nervous as hell, but was pleasantly surprised at how great vacation can be when sober. We actually ventured out past the hotel bar, and surrounding block. I recall every bit of it, even the creepy Mormon theme park that showcased the Pacific Islands and their indigenous peoples. That the Mormon's conveniently forgot to add were happy and free before being ambushed by missionaries. That was a good eight to ten hours of my life I wish to have back; although I have to admit, it was a dry theme park. So good on you, Mormons.

Last November I was unexpectedly invited to go to Grand Cayman by my cousin. Her husband had to back out for work, so I gladly filled in. Best part was that my little cuz doesn't drink, so it would be another stress-free vacation, in that my companion wouldn't be on the hunt for the closest two-for-one deal. Gorgeous, that Grand Cayman. Loved every minute of that vacation.

So I have gotten over my initial terror at going on vacation without booze. And now we can't afford to leave the fucking drive-way. Having had to ask the father-in-law to float us money while I am in school, with no income, was a kick in the balls for my poor husband. Earlier in the summer we were offered a free place to stay down at the Outer Banks. All we would need is spending moolah, we quickly deduced that going on even a "free" vacation would look down right asshole-ish, so we declined the kind offer.

So with no vacation destinations, Rob still had to take vacation from work, or lose it. This past week was great. A nice little stay-cation, if you will. Pawned baby off on Grandma, so we could go out and eat crabs in peace. Lounged around the house. Ran errands together. Nice. But still were in a funk about not going anywhere fun, so we decided to go to the ocean for a night. Even after Labor Day, hotels down at the beach cost an arm, leg, and a kidney. We like to rationalize things, so we used our most convenient excuse: The Baby. Cam can't have her first summer on earth without dipping her toes in the Atlantic, right? Right?! Right.

I am a planner. A worrier. Someone who does not adjust well to change. So I spent about 10 hours online looking at the few hotels at the ocean. None over a 3 star. Which set off panic alarms inside of me. My husband would have driven down, sight unseen, and booked us into the nearest place that had a vacancy sign. I do not roll like that. So after much deliberation, I chose a Holiday Inn. We set out yesterday with a full car, a slightly unhappy Cam, and determination to eat every unhealthy thing that we remember loving as kids, down at the Boardwalk.

I should have figured it out when I passed a sign that said "Motorcycle Safety Week". Certainly the hundred or so bikers we passed, got cut-off by, or stuck behind didn't clue me into the fact that they were headed in our direction. My mind must have tried to block the fact that fucking Bike Week coincided with the one goddamn day we were on "vacation". Cam screamed in terror at the ear shattering motorcycles when they pulled along side us. The two and a half hour trip to the beach was a nightmare. Screaming baby, loud bikes EVERYWHERE, cops stationed every few miles to keep the bikers safe, and to keep me from driving like the maniac I can be.

The Holiday Inn turned out to have a fabulous kid pool, replete with water slides, a mini lazy river, and a bunch of fountains. Sweet. In my vacation delirium, I didn't take into account Cam needing to sleep. I'll admit, it made me a little bitter that the 7 month old was keeping me from my ice cream, french fries, funnel cakes, and caramel corn. Oh, and I am a Type 2 diabetic, so my blood sugar was probably low from having to wait six hours in between meals. Blood sugar is under tight control, so no lecture about the diabetes, folks.

Get to the Boardwalk, which under normal circumstance is the best people watching on earth. You add to it drunk, possibly high bikers, it's a train wreck you just can't take your eyes off. It occurred to me, while sitting and eating like a pig at a trough, that the week before this little town hosted an A.A. convention. I snickered to myself as I watched rednecks and bikers yell to one another where the next "party" was. While cops blindly looked the other way. What it would be like if A.A and the bikers were in town during the same weekend. I really would pay to see it.

It was windy as hell, so our walk that I had envisioned as being so tranquil and fun, with summer ended, was anything but. The constant rumble of motorcycles, of rednecks yelling to one another, and booze advertisements everywhere was definitely not my idea of a vacation. We finished our pig out, accomplishing two goals simultaneously: the adult feeding frenzy and Cam getting her first tastes of the boardwalk. We headed back to the car, and decided to take a drive down the highway and memory lane. We got twenty blocks in before we turned back to the hotel serenaded by a very angry, over tired Cam. Motherhood: failure; Vacation Planner: utter failure.

I now sit in the comfort of my own home, in what was awesome silence.  Cam , off schedule, is screaming at the top of her little lungs. But I don't hear motorcycles, so I guess that's something. :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back to School

I decided to go back to school in the summer of 2009. I had been laid off in March of the same year, and was thumbing through a community college schedule when one of the programs caught my eye. I'd always wanted to go back to school, I already had a B.A., but nothing was that interesting to me to start on a masters. My G.I. Bill was going to run out in 2012, so I was always keeping my head on the swivel, looking for something engaging.

Turns out addictions counseling spoke to me from the catalog. So, I started on a certificate program, while "looking" for a job. I had some pretty good professors and some of the material was new to me, but having been in the Navy and in the workplace in general for 20 years, a lot of the course work was just plain boring, but I needed it to get that cert. My plan was to get the cert, get a job, and start grad school. I was going to apply for the fall 2010 program, and just keep the momentum going. You know what they say about making plans.

Also in the summer of 2009, my husband and I decided we were going to adopt a baby. So while going to school, looking for a job, I was also doing a crap load of paperwork for a home study for our adoption agency. Having passed the home study, we went into the waiting pool in December of 2009, and were told a one to three year wait.

In the middle of my second semester (of five classes and an internship) we were placed with our daughter. Not two months after we went into the waiting pool. Not sure what happened in the months that followed, because I was a sleep-deprived mess. But I finished that god-damned certificate, and was looking forward to applying to grad school. Having missed the March deadline for fall acceptance, I would now have to wait til spring 2011. Oh well. Cam is worth we took the summer to bum around, following her little infant schedule.

August rolled around, and I started perusing my grad school's website, and to my utter shock and disbelief I have to take yet another class, Developmental Psych. I tried asking the nice lady in admissions I already took regular psych, and shouldn't my twenty years post B.A. get me out of this bullshit class? Nope.

So here I sit, in a 200 level Developmental Psychology class three days a week, smarting. I tried giving it the benefit of the doubt, but each day I struggle to stay calm, as the professor, a doctor no less, completely makes up her own shit. She doesn't like the word "scheme", says it's an ugly word, and proceeds to tell the class to pronounce it "sheem". Or that a negative consequence of children not attaching to their parents is homosexuality. Each day a new gem. Perhaps I will post them.

For now, I had better download my take home exam. Take. Home. Because I only have one week to do it. All 25 questions. Take home exam, with a one week turn around. Pretty sure that any college professor I had 20 years ago would have laughed in my face if I suggested a take home quiz, let alone exam. I weep for the future.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I've been sober 3 years now. I've been a wife for 4 years, a mother for 7 months...and a student, well my entire life. Deep thought makes me think I was an alcoholic before birth, I certainly have the genes for it, and even in the womb I had control issues, or so my mother claims.

I marvel at people who can remember exactly when they realized they were alcoholic. Me, there is no memory of the "Aha!" moment. No realization of "okay, drinking is THE problem". Nope, I know that I was aware of my problem long before I put the booze down, but can't pin point when that was. And it troubles me. Doesn't keep me up at night, but for someone who likes everything in neat and tidy boxes, it drives me a little nuts.

What I do know is that I know the moment I realized I would never be able to drink again. It was winter of 2007, my body was full of aches and pains, which at 35, was a problem. I had thought for at least a year, I could feel my liver throbbing. And now I had proof. I had already been diagnosed as a Type 2 Diabetic a few weeks before I went to see an endocrinologist. Blood tests revealed I had a fatty liver. The doc was kind, but matter of fact: I was killing myself with every drink I took. I left his office scared shit-less with an insane thought: what the hell was I going to do on vacations??

So I went home to tell my husband that I had quit drinking. Being that we drank very heavily together, I was scared I'd lose him. He sounded supportive after I laid out what the doc told me. So, I started a sober life. A sober, hermit-like life. I was too afraid to see friends or go out. Every place in town was a place I spent MANY drunken days and evenings. I made it about 8 weeks. Our first anniversary was a beautiful day. We'd both taken the day off, went to eat some crabs, and I thought "one beer won't hurt". So I had one beer. Then we went to a great local brewery, where I said "no shots, just beer". Three beers later we went to a fine steak dinner, got a bottle of wine, and we didn't even finish it! "Wow", I remember thinking "I've got this, I am not like THOSE other alcoholics". A week later we were at a party, suffice it to say, I did not "have it". Shots, enough beer to stagger a sailor, remember falling from a sitting position. I still have a tiny scar from where my ring dug into my finger when I tried to break my fall.

So that was my last drunk. The next year was a bitch. Staying sober was not the problem, it was my marriage, my self-esteem. I begrudgingly went to A.A., at my therapist's urging. Found I liked it, in a group therapy kind of way. The second year started off great. Hubby finally realized his drinking was effecting our marriage and my sobriety, sanity. Then my Dad got sick and died. We were in the middle of hellish IVF cycles to have a baby. I got laid off. Went back to school. Started the adoption process. Year three has been a mixed basket thus far. New baby! Finished one part of school. Still jobless, looking to apply to a masters program.

Most days are filled with incredible bliss, but there are those days that creep up on me. I want a drink. I long for care-free days, of being able to "check-out". The knowledge that everything I have worked so hard for could be gone because of that one little drink jars me back to reality. I started this blog to keep me sober, if it touches someone else, all the better. Peace.