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.