About Me

Decent wife. Good Enough Mom. (I think, but you’d have to ask my kids.) Sporadic blogger. Crazy person. Chaos Manager. Finder of stray socks and missing shoes. Loves to cook, wishes it wasn’t demanded of her daily. Runs on caffeine.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

lasts and truth

I really, really want another baby.

There, I said it. It’s ridiculous, it’s selfish, it’s probably a million other things as well. But it is true. I can’t tell you how much I wish it wasn’t. I was kidding myself if I tried thinking I didn’t. I wish I didn't have to carry around this massive weight like a deep, dark secret. Everyone thinks it's ridiculous of me. I know it is. But it's still there.

My friend and coworker had her baby a few weeks ago. I was working that day and so I got to see him at just a few hours old. I held him then, and my heart just ached and I had to try hard to keep the tears from falling. I got to spend time with them the other night, and as soon as he woke up I held him. I got to feed him and cuddle him against my chest and rock him and just hold him. And it was amazing. I listened to my friend talks about struggling to find a rhythm, how to keep him asleep at decent times, how to get sleep herself. I had answers that I didn’t share. It’s not my place, she has to figure that out on her own.



But man. THAT right there is my skill set. Like Mel wrote about a few weeks back. That is what I know how to do and am good at. And I love it. Every sleepless, exhausting minute. Babies are all what is right and good with the world. The most innocent of creatures that only want love and warmth and snuggles and a full belly back.

Something has been missing from my life. I’ve been trying to fill it with other busyness...traveling on my own, going to shows, visiting more with friends, various projects of all kinds. It’s all been just a temporary lifting...nothing that sticks. Nothing that lasts.

This time last year I was pregnant with a doomed pregnancy. I was waiting to miscarry on my own. For a pregnancy that was such a shock, but still so very wanted, that felt like a last chance.

Miscarriage leaves a baby-shaped void that nothing can fill. It leaves behind a grief that you can’t describe. It leave an ache in your heart so strong that sometimes it feels like it will kill you. It leaves a baby-shapes hole in your soul that sometimes feels like it might swallow you up in it. It leaves a sadness that lingers in every breath you take. Miscarriage leaves behind a feeling of such utter loneliness. It leaves behind anger and confusion.

I don’t notice it all the time. That’s not to say I forget ever. But life moves fast and it’s not always at the front of my mind. Sometimes in a crowd I feel so lonely. I watch other happy families or pregnant women or infants in carriers and I get swept up in the all-consuming grief, and that baby-shaped hole opens back up. And sometimes I fall in.

I don’t want to feel this way. I wish that I could move on from this. I’ve been trying to find other ways to fill the void, but nothing can. I feel it when I see pieces of it in my home...the crib mobile in the closet, a stray bib, baby sock, or toy thy didn’t make the bins in the attic, the pieces of the dismantled crib tucked way in the back, the breast pump sitting on the top shelf of my closet. Things tucked away out of plain sight but things that I can still see every now and then. I feel it when I look back at old pictures of  my tiny new babies. I felt it when I held my friend’s precious, tiny son.

It’s muscle memory, remembering what to do without even thinking about it. It’s instinct. It’s me. It just is.

(((I know I’m one of the lucky ones. But it does not diminish my pain or fill the baby-shapes hole in my heart.)))

Infertility robbed me of time. All those years I lost trying to make things happen. Miscarriage robbed me of the hope that everything would turn out ok. I don’t have any hope that I will ever have another baby. It seems pretty impossible to me, seeing as I’m now over 40 and have miscarried 4 times in between two lucky shots. Every month that goes by the already slim odds get smaller and smaller.
I’m just waiting for time to officially run out. I hope to have come to some peace about this by then.

But man. I wish my last baby wasn’t the last baby I miscarried.





Friday, September 20, 2019

6 bullets for Friday

I don’t want my last post to stay the most recent one, so I decided to do a bunch of random happenings right now, bullet-style.

•We are 3 weeks in to the new school year and so far, it’s been pretty good. In fact, it’s been a lot smoother than I expected, which is a great surprise. Even my kid going to Kindergarten transitioned extremely well. He has wanted to ride the bus, but due to our weird proximity to the school we didn’t have a stop close enough. We appealed for a new stop and we got approved yesterday, so he got to ride the bus home and was so excited.

•My best friend’s daughter has been living in Chicago for a few years now. She works on the set of a TV show, but that series is ending and she’s trying to get into the Union and get another gig before this one ends. She’s been really stressed and a bit lonely and kind of in a dark space right now. I’ve been racking my brain trying to see what I could do to help. I found a comedy show that’s in Chicago this weekend and sent her a ticket to go. She is so excited. I hope it’s a small thing that can help lift her spirits right now. My friend and I are trying to figure out a time we can take a quick trip to visit her.

•Things in my house keep breaking. Over the last month or so we have had our big freezer go up twice (my husband fixed it once and the same thing happened again), our kitchen sink had a leak, our kitchen fridge has a mysterious leak we can’t pinpoint, and a pipe burst and leaked into my oldest’s room in the basement. The only thing that got ruined was her bed, which was a very old hand me down mattress anyway. Her new bed just got delivered today, and it’s really nice and was a really great price. It’s called a serta Caldiero. I had her go over and lay on about 10 different mattresses and find the best one. I’m so impressed that I am going to earmark some funds from our tax return next year to get two more for my 2 other teens. And luckily my husband is a plumber so he has been able to fix all the leaks, but we are still working on the freezer situation because he’s never really worked on those.

•I had my yearly review at work and it’s probably the best one I have ever gotten. There were a lot of things going on the past couple years that created conflict and in turn I had to change how I responded to them, being firm enough to let them know my position and what I was and was not willing to do. It was more ancillary stuff vs how I actually perform my job in the clinical setting. But I sort of got my point across that I wasn’t going to be pushed around or be the fall guy or anything else. They seemed to take notice and have treated me with a lot more respect. I actually even got some days off I didn’t expect to get approved for. We don’t get merit-based raises, but there was just an across the board raise about a month ago, so I am very happy work-wise.

•I have a love affair with Trader Joe’s. It is my favorite store and my happy place. Right now there is SO MUCH fall themed stuff out. I can’t even keep up. I went there 4 times last week and couldn’t manage to get all the things. Last Friday one of my closest work friends and I met up there and shopped together and had so much fun looking at all the stuff. I’m not super into everything being pumpkin spice, but we bought a lot of stuff to share and try. The hold-the-cone pumpkin ginger cones were amazing as was the pumpkin ice cream. The pumpkin rolls (like cinnamon rolls that come in the pop-open can) were a big disappointment. Everyone I shared the Pumpkin Spice Rubiois tea with loved it (I don’t drink tea) and also the pumpkin spice K-cups. Actually, every coffee I have ever tried from TJs has been really really good. There’s just so much good stuff in that store.

•It’s Friday and I am feeling very content today. I don’t feel rushed or like I have a thousand things to do, the fridge and pantry are stocked and I have plenty of leftover food so I don’t have to cook tonight through this weekend. All of my reminders on my phone have been cleared off and handled. I just feel a sense of calm. I went our with my best friend last night  and laughed so hard I cried and couldn’t breathe and my stomach hurt, and my anxiety is non-existent today.


Monday, September 16, 2019

anger

I wasn't going to write about this, but I really need a place to put some of my feelings. Hopefully by putting it here I can let some of it go.

So, I have written a lot about a friendship that I outgrew that had started to become toxic. If you are curious you can go back to posts from the last third of 2015 and some in 2016, and there are a few others sprinkled through this blog. What has made it hard about ending this friendship is that she is the godmother of my oldest daughter, and so it wasn't as clean of a break as I would have liked or needed, but I always tried to remain neutral for the sake of my kid.

I haven't spoken to her in a very long time. Any text messages were usually initiated by her and mostly I didn't respond or had little to say. There were just some things over the past couple years (especially that for someone who still wanted to maintain a friendship, she didn't step up when I did reach out in a crisis last summer.) The farther away from the friendship I got I realized I wasn't missing anything at all, and that actually I was better off without her.

She was supposed to attend my daughter's graduation in June but backed out at the last minute, claiming she didn't want her presence to create any "drama" for anyone else (meaning me). This was just one more thing that proved she continues to make things all about her, and is a selfish person at the crux of it. I was very angry and upset by her choice, because her being there would have meant so much to my kid. My daughter was upset but trying to focus on graduating, and asked me to not get involved and say anything. To me, that was the final straw, and I blocked her number. I was going to say something but in the end decided it wasn't worth my time, and that nothing I could say would make her change her mind. I did talk with my daughter the week after graduation about it, letting her know that I did not even talk to this person at all, so that it wasn't anything I might have said that made her feel like she couldn't come. I explained that I was upset for her, and that it was okay to expect more from someone, and that the day was about her graduating and this big accomplishment and new chapter, not about anyone else, and she deserved people in her life that would treat her that way. My daughter acknowledged how upset this made her, and that she had started to notice how selfish she was just over this and different things she had picked up on over the years. 

This person did visit my daughter at work one day and gave her a card and just said sorry I couldn't make it, and left. 

I just found this out today, but apparently over the summer when this person's birthday arrived, she wasn't happy that "all my daughter did" was text her a birthday message. She called and left my daughter a voicemail message chastising her for "not making time for her" and "doing more" or "offering to take me out BECAUSE I GAVE YOU $40 FOR YOUR GRADUATION" and “I did for you, you do for me”. 

Yes. Let that sink in. a 41 year old woman left that kind of message for her 18 year old goddaughter.

I CAN'T EVEN. there are no words. but also...FUCK HER. OMG. how dare you leave that kind of a selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered, asshole message to MY KID. I had so much anger I didn't even know what to do with it.

I was also just so devastated and heartbroken for my daughter. She didn't deserve that kind of message from someone who is supposed to be a mentor to her, someone she looks up to and respects. How hurtful that was.

And also? The majority of raising kids is doing stuff for them and not getting a lot in return. It’s a whole lot of doing, doing, doing and sometimes that’s about it. It can be thankless a lot of the time or things that go unnoticed. It takes a long time to ever truly appreciate all the things parents do. So expecting a just-out-of-highschool teen to even think she could or would be expected to take someone twice her age out to a birthday anything is a bit...odd? I don’t know. I know my 18 year old self wouldn’t have thought to treat my godmother to a day out for her birthday. What in the world??? More importantly, where is the unconditional love here? The giving a gift because you want to and it makes you feel good to make someone else happy, not what you expect to get in return? That’s just not how I was raised, or how I’m raising my kids.

My daughter came home soon after I found out. I asked her to sit so we could talk. I was almost in tears having to bring this up, but I told her I knew about the message. And her face fell. And she said she had never responded to her, that she had not spoken or texted with her in the almost 2 months since that message. I think in part because she felt embarrassed...as if she had in fact done something ungrateful or wrong. I assured her that was not the case...that it was unacceptable for anyone to treat her that way and leave her such a mean and hateful message. We talked about how its terrible and how much it hurts when someone you loved and trusted does not act the way in which you think they will act. How 2 months have gone by and this person has never for a second thought that maybe what they did was wrong and out of line and reached out to apologize. How the silence from her speaks volumes.

I mean...you hate me, you are mad at me? Fine. Great. Treat me badly, say whatever you want to me. But don't you dare mess with my kid. That's unforgivable.

My daughter came to the conclusion on her own that this person is not really worthy of her time and energy any longer. That as upsetting as it is, that she deserves better in her life. She is not short on adults who love her and cheer for her and only want the best for her. People who are kind always and have her best interest at heart. People that will gift her things and not expect anything in return. 

She asked for a new phone number. We got a new phone number. Not solely because of this but also because she wanted a fresh start and has had this number since middle school, and sometimes gets messages from people she doesn't want to hear from.

I went in to my blocked numbers and sent one last message. I said that it wasn't bad enough she had to be selfish instead of putting herself aside and attend the graduation, but then she had to be ridiculous and leave such a nasty message throwing her gift back in my daughter's face, and how there is no redemption from that, for how much she hurt my kid. How I never talked bad about her to my daughter so that she wouldn't want to spend time with her, but that she showed her true colors and that now my daughter knew the truth. How I found her actions to be sad, and how she was not welcome to contact me nor anyone in my family ever again.

I feel like the anger from this is going to stick with me for a while. I realized the kind of person she was turning into...I am just so sorry I couldn't protect my daughter from finding out in this way.  






Monday, August 19, 2019

bridge

I’ve been writing this post in my head for two days, but now I can’t seem to find the words. Apologies if this post ends up sounding a little clunky.

I had this idea that came to me during her Living Memorial. For so long, I had been stuck with what I could do for her that would be light and fun. Everyone around her seemed to take her to great places to eat, to great weekend getaways, to glorious spa days and mani/pedis and all of it. I didn’t know what to do that wouldn’t be more of the same. But listening to her husband read aloud a conscious-stream-style poetry he had been writing that summed up their life together, I realized that I had known her almost as long as her husband. And that I and only a handful of people in this packed gymnasium of a couple thousand, actually knew every word of what he had written, because we knew her whole story, not just a part of it. And my idea was born. I was going to pick her up, and we were going to drive around listening to a curated playlist of all of the bands we had listened to and seen in concert together. We would find somewhere to park, smoke a joint together and just laugh and reminisce about all of our crazy shenanigans. It would be a feel good visit, not one filled with so many tears.

Sadly, we never got the chance. There are a million reasons why, and no one is to blame. Well, that’s not entirely true. We can blame cancer. We can blame time. Cancer quickly took all her good days leaving her feel fatigued and nauseated most of the time. Time continued to tick by, not waiting for her to feel better and catch up.

She was always a take-charge person, never waiting for someone else to make a decision or get the ball rolling. I met her during our first year of x-ray school. Older by 3 years, she seemed to have a world’s worth of experience over me back then. As if she was an expert at life. The first thing she did was suggest that we start a class bank account and hold fundraisers. “For what?” the rest of us asked. “Well, to fund our parties because we are going to need them to get through this program, and also because they said we had to attend conferences and those cost money”. Her and I became quickly close (it was hard not to when you spent 40+ hours a week with a small handful of people.) I stayed at her house almost half the time. We had a million crazy shenanigans together, the stuff of great stories. We studied for our boards together and rode together to go take them. She always had a plan of what we needed to do and how it should all go.

A couple years later we both getting married. She was part of the Ali community before we even knew there was an ali community. She endured several first and second trimester losses, but managed to get two take-home babies that are close in age to my two girls. She almost lost her life birthing the second baby due to some rare complications, and because of that was unable to have the size family they had always wanted. She lost her father not long after I lost mine, and also lost her grief-stricken mom, not in the physical sense, but emotionally. She endured a complete loss of income and scary financial hardships when her children were babies. She had seen her fair share of tragedy, but she never acted like it. She was always streadfast in her ability to push forward, to find a way, to just keep going. Always working toward taking care of her family and making sure they were ok, that they didn’t suffer.

Even through her cancer. She dismissed any concern over how she was doing and feeling as if it didn’t matter because she was fighting to stay alive for her family. She never worried what she might be missing, she only ever worried about what they were missing. She made sure their lives never skipped a beat with any of their activities and school functions. She would have lit herself on fire if it meant it would cure the cancer. I suspect she endured way more plain and discomfort than she ever let anyone ever know. She wouldn’t hear of slowing down or resting. At her memorial, she refused to let anyone help with 95% of it. She was on her feet for hours that day talking to every single person and asking if everyone had eaten, even though she herself had not stopped to sit down and eat. By her seat was a tower of full plates of food that people had made and brought to her that she wouldn’t take a moment to touch, lest she miss talking to someone.

During her last weeks she was struggling because her girls (14 and 17) were beginning to act out a bit, which is completely understandable. But she was determined to be there and continue to talk to them about how bad behavior was not a way to cope. She made sure every last detail was taken care of, and had lists and instructions for her husband to handle all the accounts and payments and doctor things. She scheduled every dentist and doctor appointment she possibly could to make sure things would not be forgotten. She told everyone that she was going to be ok, as long as she knew they were.

I spoke with her often in the last couple of weeks, the last time on a Friday. After a couple of days I checked in again but didn’t hear back. That wasn’t unusual especially more recently because she would have a group of bad days and it would be quiet. Based on how she was feeling I knew she didn’t have much time left. I probably sent three each a couple days apart, the last one being Friday, a week after we last spoke.

I got the call from her husband on Saturday morning that she had passed a couple hours earlier, and he had had her phone and knew I had been reaching out so he told me, but didn’t really care how most other found out. He talked to me about how the end was much, much worse than they had told him it would be, and it was just as bad to wake their daughters to tell them the news. My heart just broke for them all. It’s all just so unfair. 44. She was 44. Her girls are 17 and 14. None of them deserves this. Her selfless way transferred to them because all her husband talks about is how sad he is that she had to suffer so damn much.

I’ve mostly been grieving for how sad I am for her family. For the heartache they feel. For the hole left in their lives.

But then I think about me and how I feel. And how much fun we had together, and how when we did get together we would forget we were adults for a time and how nice and freeing that was. But also that she is one of the only people who knew me before and after. Before adulthood and family and real jobs and responsibilities. Going through that program together, we knew each other in a way no one else really could. She was someone I met young enough where she still was able to learn all of my past and be present for my future; most friends we meet as adults don’t really get to know our entire life history in quite the same way. I’ve been thinking back hard to remember all the stories. She probably remembered some things I had forgotten about. I had found some old pictures I took to her for her memorial (after I got a copy for myself saved onto a CD) and a few I had no idea where they were taken but she did.

I’ve been stuck on the thoughts of that...how she was a bridge between my life then and my life now. And how weird it is that she is now gone. That is where my thoughts and sadness sit, on that bridge, suspended in the ether, still learning from her even after she’s gone.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Vacation: all I ever wanted

We have recently come back from our family vacation. It was nothing spectacular or any grand location, just our usual beach house just outside our usual beach town, but it was the best vacation I think we have probably ever had.

In past years it has just been difficult...the last couple years were teenage attitudes causing so much strife, or sick kids or babies who couldn’t tolerate a more relaxed schedule and late nights, or any number of other things that just made it all feel super stressful getting everyone together and getting out the door each day and not wasting time. I don’t know which combination of things worked together, but it definitely felt like less effort despite doing all the same things. Don’t get me wrong, there was still bickering and the breaking up of sibling fights and the littles still had meltdowns at certain points, but it felt like much less than usual. It could also be that I just expect everything to always be a shitshow, so my expectations are lower than low, so in turn I got to be pleasantly surprised when things went smoother.

We managed to get out the door early on travel day so we arrived early despite still hitting traffic and got a few usual stops done before checking in, so that we were able to have the late afternoon and evening free which hasn’t happened in years past. We swam in an awesome family pool every single morning (where my 3 year old decided to swim without floaties at all!) and went to the beach every day. We ate ice cream every day, sometimes twice, and played on a newly built playground in our vacation community. We fed the fish and the ducks and our little porch squirrels, and we spent plenty of time doing nothing in particular. On the beach I watched the kids play in the surf and sand and breathed in the salty air and watched the waves crash and just enjoyed what was in front of me. We watched a family of dolphins swim incredibly close to the shore, about a wave break away from us. We collected tons of great shells during walks on the beach. We scoped out the sand at sundown for left and abandoned beach toys, and watched the sun set on the beach every night. We fed the seagulls more than their fair share of bread and listened to them call out and yell at each other. We walked the boardwalk in the rain and ate delicious French fries with vinegar. We ate dinner for lunch and ate sandwiches for dinner on the beach every night. We played Punch Buggy on every car ride. We slept in, took naps, and made homemade pizza (with fresh dough from Trader Joes) and a delicious mexican meal of tacos and spanish rice and a 7-layer dip. We left our towels on the floor and our toys strewed around, and I lived out of a suitcase for 7 days and it was heaven. We did almost all those things as a group of 7 everyday, which is a real treat. The only time we weren’t together for is the boardwalk rides that my husband graciously lets me skip because it is my least favorite thing, so I had a couple quiet hours where I wrote my last blog post.

When the week was over we were all ready to go home, which was also new. In years past we felt like we didn’t get enough time but this year everyone was vacation tired and ready to hit the road. We came back renewed and rejuvenated, relaxed, and revived. It was beautiful and wonderful, all of us together. Exactly as it should be.
























Monday, August 5, 2019

Let’s talk boobies

I have never had a great relationship with my boobs. I guess it’s always been sort of a love/hate thing going on. I got them early and when they showed up, they weren’t small and cute, not at all. They made me stand out from everyone else who hadn’t even started going through puberty yet. I blame this on karma. You see, I used to grab my heavy-set grandma’s huge bras and put them on and make fun of them when I was little...and don’t you know I ended up with her exact body later  in life. Karma. I swear. Anyway, my boobs attracted a lot of unwanted attention first in the form of teasing and eventually in the form of interest, and I hated both. It took me a long time to get used to even wearing a bra, which I hated so much. I waited until people started telling me I HAD to wear a bra before I ever did. And then it made it hard to find dresses and things that fit my chest and were still modest and appropriate for a tween. Needing an 8th grade white graduation dress that was formal, we had to go to a bridal shop. My mom found the most modest one we could, but even then it was impossible to hide my boobs. It was mortifying on graduation night to have the principal walk down the line as we waited to walk in and start criticizing my dress and saying it was inappropriate and tugging it up higher on my chest. Eventually I started wearing big, oversized shirts and sports bras to help conceal them. It just really sucked. My sister always had small boobs, and so we were jealous of each other, and I always told her she could have them, that I would gladly give them up. That it wasn't great to have big old boobs.

At some point I realized the power they held and I learned to use it if I needed it. I learned to embrace the jokes and enjoy the attention they brought. Being bi myself, I still didn’t really get the appeal but whatever. (Their just sacks of yellow fat*) Pregnancy and nursing did a real number on them, and after my third baby weaned they were left sort of sad looking. I still didn’t really care either way about them. It took a long time in between babies to view them in a sexual way again, which I’m guessing is necessary and normal. While before I needed the most supportive bra out there, now I just needed something to push up and round out all the deflated tissue. Seriously, I joked that they looked like sad deflated balloons. Eventually I got my nipples re-pierced and tried to make peace with them again. Fast forward 5 more pregnancies and nursing 2 babies and yeah...my boobs are definitely not what they used to be, but they are sort of the least of all my body concerns, appearance-wise. They actually look small to me compared to my stomach that just won’t go down thanks to ab separation. But they are there and I know them well.

*As a super side note, please go to youtube and watch Rachel Bloom's gem of a song and video "Heavy Boobs". I needed this song way back when.

*******************************************************************************

Last week as I go in the car to go shopping for vacation supplies, my daughter grabbed the mail for me. It had come hours earlier but I forgot to check it, so it was around 4pm on a Wednesday. There was the letter from the radiology center, and I expected to find the same letter I got last year from my first mammogram saying all was clear. Except that is not what the letter said. It stated that there was a  “finding” on my images that needed additional pictures and possibly an ultrasound. Now, I am a medical professional and radiology is my field, but that did not help calm the panic I immediately felt. Sitting in my car in the driveway I called the number to try and schedule something, and because of our vacation I wasn’t able to get an appointment for over 10 days away. We did the shopping and I was more than distracted and really irritable and forgot half of what I needed and bought a bunch of crap I didn’t need. I called again when I got home and couldn’t find a location anywhere even remotely near me with a diagnostic appointment available in the next 2 days.

My sister is a mammo tech (not in the same state) and so I spent a long time on the phone freaking out going over every possible scenario. I know “finding” can be almost anything at all that wasn’t on my last mammogram images, so it could be nothing or it could be something. I didn’t have the report to try and further determine what they might be seeing, and I only knew it was my left side because of the scheduler reminding me of no deodorant on the left side. (Deodorant contains aluminum which is a metal and can create artifacts on images) I was shirtless on the phone frantically feeling around my boobs for something, anything, while my sister assured me it was not likely something I’d be able to feel. I feel my boobs all the time. I have never felt anything, ever. I was locked in my room freaking the fuck out and trying to hide it from everyone because I don’t need them to worry too. I was sad, but I was also mad. I spent all of last summer anxious with worry over a situation that ruined  the entire summer and even our vacation, and here we were again about to go on our only family vacation of the year and it was going to be ruined for me. I went around and around with my sister...put it out of my head for my vacation and worry when we get back (hahaHA), if I find out bad news before vacation that’s going to ruin vacation, and on and on. She said a million times “Slow your Roll”. I stressed myself into exhaustion and finally went to bed. I had texted a few close friends I work with and just asked them for prayers to help calm me down. My girls, bless them, said whatever it is we are in this with you.

Maybe this all seems dramatic and over-the-top. Maybe it was. But when I heard something could be wrong with me, like really, really wrong, I was sad and scared and in denial. Sad this was happening at all, sad I couldn't just go on vacation for the second year in a row without a worry, volleying back and forth between thinking everything was ok to believing it was not. My fight or flight was in flight mode, wanting to just run the heck outta town as soon as possible, wanting to not confront this issue at all. I didn't try to think or feel a certain way, it all just came in huge crashing waves I had no control over. I just kept thinking about how my baby is only 3, how nothing could be wrong with me. and then I thought of my dear sweet friend who is nearing the end of her life, and how her babies are only 14 and 17, and it just all got to be overwhelming and real and unfair, and I was smacked in the face with the fact that this very well could be happening to me. It isn't just some distant thing my happening to someone else. It was sobering and scary as fuck.

Quick side note: A long time ago my sister and I decided that if we ever found a lump or anything in our breasts, we would opt for a double mastectomy and be done with it. None of this lumpectomy/try and salvage my breasts bullshit. It’s just not worth the risk of leaving any tissue. My dad has breast cancer, but it was non-genetic. Before we knew that, it was suggested I start having mammograms at age 30, which is usually the recommendation if a parent has had it. Because it was non-genetic (meaning he didn’t have the gene to pass down to me) I could start at age 40, which is the non-risk factor age, and I did.

I thought I would wake up the next day feeling ok, but I only felt worse. As soon as I opened my eyes it was the first thing I thought of.  I called to check for cancellations first thing but got nowhere. I felt myself becoming more frantic about the whole thing. My sister tried to tell me things I already knew...anything that looks different than last year can be a finding. I weight more now than last year so there could be an increase in fatty tissue. I have had another pregnancy, and even unsuccessful pregnancies can cause hormonal changes. Finally, I reached out to a friend and co-worker that also works at that center. She’s an an ultrasound tech who could at least pull my report...or maybe get someone to squeeze me in as a favor??? I send off spastic tech messages. Finally call back the scheduling line while I wait to hear from my friend...they have a 2pm appointment at my friend’s office. Ok. Great. 2pm. But, OMG now I am going to know something in a few hours. How am I going to get through this without crying. I text my husband he needs to go with me. But who’s going to pack for vacation, we leave in the morning? I call my mom and tell her I’m bringing the kids to her, I got an appointment. I start crying, I can’t help it, I am TERRIFIED. I say I want my sister. Ok, I need to get it together this isn’t helping anyone. I go up to shower and get dressed and start throwing random shit into my suitcase. No idea what I am even packing, I am just grabbing stuff as I see it.

I take a long hot shower and actually shave. I let super hot water hit my shoulders  and back. I think about what it would mean if my results are bad. I say I don’t care about my boobs, but is that really true? I realize that if it’s bad, then that’s a definite end to my reproductive years for sure. That treatments would make it so, and it wouldn’t matter because I would lose my only way to feed a baby with my body. I start to appreciate my boobs more than I ever have before. I realize a few moments later that I will miss the sexual part of my breasts as well. I know nerve damage would likely happen and fake boobs aren’t the same. I also pray in the shower for some peace.

After I shower I text my best friend. Can you meet me at 2pm? I have my follow-up I don’t want to go alone. All she asks is the address.

I drop the kids at my moms; she asks if I want her to go. I tell her no, best friend is going to meet me there. I think she feels kind of bad that it’s my sister and then best friend in the order of who I want with me. We meet at the center and I check in. First schedule mix up with spelling of my name so they can’t find me, then they ask for a doctor’s order which they didn’t tell me I needed for a callback??, then asking me for almost $400 towards my deductible which I don’t think is right. I’m already on edge and close to tears, I don’t have it in me to fight and make a scene. They sense this and offer to charge me half and call my doctor for the order. My friend who works there find me and is shocked to see me so rattled.

My friend waiting with me tells me stories (it’s been a couple weeks since we caught up) to keep me distracted. She sits back with me after I get that open-in-the-front gown on and makes me laugh. I am glad to see the tech that gets me is an older lady who has been doing this forever, and it totally comforting when I tell her I’m nervous. (Younger techs are great, too, but this one has been around the block and has surely had her own boobs squashed before) She gives me a lot of info about what they saw before and what she is doing, which I appreciate. It’s by my nipple so I get a nipple marker (a band-aid with a lead dot in the middle that goes over the nipple. Lead absorbs the radiation and leaves a clear space. It’s helpful because nipple tissue can leave a density on images and they use this to rule out nipple tissue vs something else). She places it on my nipple. I have no modesty in me, I’d show the world my boobs at this point. She asks about pain or lumps and I am 10000 percent certain I have none. One picture then back to waiting. My friend is still sitting outside the room. I show her my lovely nipple marker. There are other women in pink gowns in this area. Everyone is friendly with each other and I guess there isn’t much other way to be when we all have our boobs hanging out and getting squashed and are all scared we might have cancer. Everytime the door opens I’m looking to see if it’s my tech. I’m bouncing on the chair and my friend looks me dead in the eye and says we got this, no matter what. I’m not alone and that is what I need to know right now. Eventually it is my tech, and they need another picture. It’s looking like a blood vessel or something bunched up around the nipple so they have to try and smooth out the tissue and take a view that will fan out the slices. This one actually hurts a bit but I am ok with it. She could stomp it flat if it means they can figure out what’s going on in my breast. I’m back to waiting and my friend and I are just being ridiculous and loud telling stories but there is no other way to be when one needs a distraction. Finally the tech comes back and says it’s all clear. It was fibrous tissue around the nipple and I don’t need anything else I can  come back in a year. It doesn’t sink it at first until my friend is hugging me saying it’s ok. I get dressed and my friend who works there comes and gets us and shows us her office. She is as surprised I brought someone. “You are tough as nails, but not about this” she comments shaking her head in sympathy at me. She was already to scan me when she saw my ultrasound was cancelled. I get hugs, text everyone the news. My friend and I leave to go get celebratory drinks at 3pm on a Thursday afternoon. I say a prayer of thanks, because I am well aware how that could have gone the other way.

It was some of the worst 24 hours I have ever had, anxiety-wise. But it was also beautiful in hindsight because I often feel alone, but it was a great reminder that I’m not. I don’t have a group of mommy friends or a village of family, but I have a group of us who have chosen each other. My best friend I met through our kids school, but my other friends are work framily, and I am so thankful for them.

So here is my PSA:

Please, please, please get your mammograms. Every single year. Don’t put it off, and don’t wait. It is not scary, and it’s not really that painful. And check your boobs often!!! Know what they feel like at different times of the month. It’s so damn important!! I know that a while back there was a report that self-exams weren’t needed or whatever, but that it bullshit. You need to know what your boobs feel like so you can tell when something feels different. A general rule is to get your first screening at age 40, unless you have a reason to get it sooner. Yes, it's just one more appointment to make time for. But it is an important one. A screening mammogram takes no time at all. Even for my very first one the entire thing took under a half hour, from walking in the door and checking in to leaving. Most insurance companies pay 100% for a screening, and even if you don't have that coverage (or any at all) hospitals and county programs provide free screenings. Early detection saves lives. And it is WAY better to know going in to one that one year ago you had a clear mammogram, or to know what kind of breast tissue you have, or any other thing. You need a baseline so they know when something is off or when it could have started. do yourself and your family this favor.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Life lately and a furry new addition

I can’t believe I really haven’t written here in so long. I would always feel like I had something to say and then just get stuck. A couple months ago we were dealing with some heavy stuff that would probably have made great posts but I lacked the emotion energy to sort them out in writing.

My mom had a health scare and was hospitalized in March and I felt the full burden of being the only one of my siblings who lives in town. Around this same time I had a few separate teenage parenting issues to deal with that were super stressful and heartbreaking to navigate. In the grand scheme of things they were pretty minor compared to what they could have been, but it still felt extremely difficult while we were in it.

We also had some very wonderful moments too. We took trips to the petting zoo and picked strawberries on the first day of the season. I took 2 quick solo trips (36 hrs and 23 hrs) for my sister’s 50th birthday and for a show in NYC. We spent a fabulous day just the kids and I in DC during spring break. We had a pre-k graduation and next week will have a high school graduation, which is bananas. We are having a party afterwards with more people than I have ever hosted before and we are DIY-ing all of it, even the food. I’m starting a family diet challenge this weekend with several members of my family, because I need something that is going to keep me focused. I have spent less time on myself these past several months than I ever have, and I need to get it together. I know how, I just need support, and at least with my family it will be a lot love vs trying to sell me a product, like a lot of these online “coaches”. Our pool opened last weekend so I am excited to get back there, even if I am less than stoked about putting on a damn bathing suit. I just started a biggest Loser competition with some members of my family, which is going to be fun and probably better accountability than those online “coach” programs, because we aren’t afraid to be real with each other if the scale isn’t movingly can tell each other to do better  in a way that’s harsh but filled with love. No real prize except for helping each other. So far the text chain has been hilarious and heartening. And I found a workout I actually love, it’s called the Be.come Project and it’s online and an app, and it’s a body positive, yoga-inspired workout that works on the mental aspect as well. I have found it very helpful for getting out of my negative body-shaming mindset and it’s been the best thing I discovered. There is a free trial available, so anyone can check it out to see if it’s for them.

But everyone is happy and healthy and all together we are in a great place. I know I tend to only write about the negative feelings anymore, but truly there is so much good happening every day, as I told my girls the other day “We are the lucky ones.”

And finally...we have a new puppy! I didn’t want a puppy, I didn’t plan on getting a puppy. Here’s the quick-ish backstory:

My niece and her boyfriend decided to get a dog. They went to a local rescue and fell in love with a puppy that was 6 weeks old. Due to the age of the pup, this rescue was looking for fosters to take multiple puppies to care for until they were old enough to spay/neuter and then the foster family can adopt after that. She called me crying because she didn’t want to take two and have to give one back to the shelter in a couple weeks but they knew they couldn’t handle two puppies that would grow into 80lb dogs. I wasn’t ready for another dog after losing two in a year and a half. I hadn’t even been able to take my kids to the shelters like they asked because my heart hurt. And after our last adventure raising 2 puppies, we vowed never again to have a puppy. My husband got wind of this dilemma with my niece and so he was like “Of course we will take one.” And I was all skeptical but he got the kids on board and it all went downhill from there. I told my niece to try her best but after 2 days she was like yeah there is no way we can handle two of them. They picked the one they were keeping and brought the puppy up to meet my kids and told everyone that was their dog. The plan was that I was going to meet her the day we could finalize the adoption (1.5hrs from me without traffic) so I could pay my half of the fee, ect. And then she changed her mind and didn’t know how she would split them up at all and it became drama. So I just told her not to involve us because I wasn’t doing the back and forth with her decision or the dogs or having her be all upset over it or wanting the dog back at some point or what have you. So that happened and I just told my kids we weren’t getting the dog and I went on about life. I was a little pissed because she got my kids excited and brought the dog to meet my kids (which was HER idea, not mine!) but then I was out of town for a couple days for my sister’s birthday and got home and went right back to work. The week after I realized the kids (and my husband) were all still upset and bummed out so I told them we would look for a dog. Maybe (probably) not a puppy but an older dog or at least an older puppy closer to a year old. That my niece’s dog wasn’t the right one for us but that we would take our time and find the right one for us. That following weekend my husband took the kids to the shelters (I keep maintaining that he was free to go to shelters and adoption fairs and look and bring something home. I have trouble going in to shelters and wanting ALL the dogs) but they didn’t find anything. Our local shelters had low census (happily!) but told us to look at the websites because they are able to keep them updated. Thanks to petfinders “Pets available near you” feature, I wasn’t even looking for her, but I found her. I saw her face and I just knew she was ours. I put in an application late Saturday night, and we brought her home Monday evening. We have had her 4 weeks now and she is awesome, and perfect and just so smart. She came to us super polite already knowing how to sit without being prompted, and now she knows how to give paw and she learned lay down in a single day! Her name is Leia (as in Princess) and she’s definitely the one for us. I didn’t want a puppy, I wasn’t looking for a puppy, but there she was. And I am so glad we found her.

She is a lab mix and is definitely considered a large breed and will likely weight around 80lbs. She has grown a ton in the 4 weeks we have had her and gained over 11 lbs so far. We think she may be mixed with boxer and possibly german shepherd based on how she looks compared to internet pictures we have searched. I am considering doing one of those Wisdom dna panels to know for sure. The rescue said one of her litter mates that was black and white looked like a hound, and there was another one that was all white with some brown that looked more like ours. There were 7 of them all together but I only know about the ones that were all in the same foster home as ours. But she's way too big for any hound mix and doesn't seem to have hound traits at all so far. Litters can be fathered by different dogs so it definitely makes it interesting trying to figure it out.

It took a little under a week for my other dog to get used to her and for them to start playing together. Now they act like fools tearing through the house wrestling and stealing each other's food and its been SO good for. She was lonely without her sister and it will keep her young. (She is 7) My new pup was born and rescued from the same area in WV and estimated to be born around the same time of year, so they are almost exactly 7 years apart.

 Here is the picture that made me fall in love with her:
                             
and a couple others taken the night we brought her home:



 This is the most recent pic I took the other night. It was late and she was SO sleepy from a busy day of learning new things.


    the first night she decided the puppy wasn't going anywhere. 6 days in.
                                                           
                     reluctant couch sharer.


a rare moment of stillness from them both.