A different kind of news: a step toward parenthood

I’ve been having what feels like more than my fair share of scary or awful symptoms lately. I won’t get into defining what’s fair, for the purpose of staying on track here, though. There’s been the usual (dizziness, intermittent nausea, pain rotating through the body, cramping of all sorts, weakness) plus a dash of new, weird, annoying stuff (chest pain, difficulty breathing) so basically it’s been like throwing a bright springtime picnic.

At some point there was a definitive moment, while contemplating all of the weird, that it seemed clear that something had to be different, this wasn’t just the usual “I’m broken” kind of wrong. Amid the usual range of random symptoms that cycle through, it’s usually impossible to tell when a new symptom is actually different.

Despite my typical assumption that I’m just broken, I ventured a test anyway. It was a bit on the early side and so to keep us on tenterhooks, the home test strip (1 line for no, 2 lines for yes) came up: one and a half. Seriously.

It took a blood test and an ultrasound, for me to actually believe: I’m expecting. We’re expecting. There’s gestating going on in what I have always referred to as a non-childbearing *waves hand* midsection. Did you know it’s possible to almost immediately start having symptoms in Weeks 5 and 6? As PiC said, “you can have symptoms this early??” Not cool.

It’s been weird. All kinds of weird. Both from the gestating POV and from being among a lot of blog and offline friends who are in baby stages of life, either having had them or struggling with having them, and I find myself torn. I hurt for those friends who are hurting and there’s a small part of me that’s hesitant to be happy about having a thing they want so much.

Because this is, despite all my practical reservations, a thing that I find myself happy about. Over the years, practical reservations have ruled my thinking: family health and financial history, my health issues, who the hell knows how we’re going to raise a child to be a good thinking human being without any help we don’t hire except for the few loved ones who might be able to come over for a week or handful of days, and BTW the Bay Area is frakkin’ expensive.

You might see where I derail into all of the scary life things and start to forget that this is actually a good thing. It is. I’m grateful that it didn’t require serious intervention and ever so grateful that I’m even able to conceive at all. Infertility, multiple miscarriages, difficult pregnancies and all are common in my family and at my age, with my health … I’m grateful.

And because I’m grateful and happy and possibly even a reserved excited about it (because again, early days), I’m trying to concentrate on what’s in front of me.

What IS in front of me?

Food is a problem. I LOVE food but uhm. This microscopic alien has literally run my life from minute to minute. I eat driven purely by instinct. In a single day, I might be repulsed by the very names of my normal foods, only cold veggies and orange juice allowed, then desperately need a steak. Cravings are normal and I typically ignore them but this level of craving is ridiculous.

I alternate between wanting to do ALL the cleaning and wanting to do nothing at all. Energy aside, my brain has become subject to an ON/OFF switch flipped by who knows what.

The seventeen trips to the bathroom a day have commenced and I’m possibly more annoyed about that than anything else but I suspect something else will top it soon enough.

Even after having it officially confirmed, it still doesn’t feel real. After all, fatigue and queasiness is a normal fibro/fatigue symptom for me. But as it turns out, there is a reason for it and it has a heartbeat. A heartbeat. This is weird.

When I’m fatigued, it’s about as bad as any kind of fatigue I’ve had ever, but as I described to a friend, it’s like I walk around w/50 lbs of bricks on my back daily. What’s another 5 or 10 bricks? They suck but I’m already accustomed to slog through a swamp, bearing lead weights.

All the literature keeps warning me and PiC to tolerate my mood swings but so far they’ve been:

1. If I can’t eat food today, again, I’m going to yell at someone.
2. If I can’t sleep tonight, again, I’m going to collapse.

Those probably aren’t considered moods, though.

This doesn’t in any way mitigate the pain of losing Doggle. However well intentioned, please don’t suggest that it does or it will. In some ways, it’s almost worse, Doggle loves – loved – small children (and really loves – loved – the smell of them); there were few things that could get his attention but concern for a crying child has always been at the very top of that short list, easily trumping anything else.

We had very much looked forward to introducing him to his human sibling to love and grow up with.

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On one of those days …

Most of my days are “those days”. Days where I’m happy if I’ve managed to work a full day and get things done, fed myself real food, taken care of the dogs, and possibly even created less mess than I cleaned up.

Most of them are “Igh, feels like crap” days.

But on occasion there are those stellar days when I didn’t just work, I didn’t just eat, I’ve also: cleared the monthly finances, done the housework, made an actual meal, and done some financial research. Even played with the dogs, not just skated by with a walk and some petting.

They’re rare and I love them all the more when they come around. Never mind that there’s a big ole letdown in the aftermath when I can’t do that much in one go again, the actual day is pretty fantastic.

Anyway, I haven’t decided yet which day this is, but PiC’s caved in our ongoing (wimpy) battle over whether to handwash or use the dishwasher because the time and energy we save not handwashing can really be better used on the 30,000 other things that need doing but for which we don’t yet have some sort of automated, robotic way to do them. So that’s kinda nice. It does mean that I more routinely horrify horrified the dog when the dishwasher runs (just Doggle, Seamus is utterly indifferent), but today’s run has had me hopeful he’s going to he would get over it as we‘re not stopped fighting over where he should go in case of Dishwasher Lives! Emergency.

This whole thing’s got me thinking about how else we can save more of our energy.

Also it’s got me thinking about how in the old country, as recently as during my childhood, food was always fresh and we weren’t connected or didn’t rely on electricity around the clock ..

BUT:
dishes and clothes were always washed by hand, using rainwater or water brought up from the river if it’d been a dry winter or especially hot summer;
meals were planned based on what was fresh at market and cooking them always included marketing once or twice a day;
electricity was only possible when you cranked the generator and sometimes not even then so bedtime was sundown;
forget actual running water for showers or toilets;
and good grief, the mosquitoes. I don’t care who you are or how tough you are, if you’re a blood bar for mosquitoes, you would hate them too.

I loved my time growing up in the rural farmstead but never will I ever romanticize that pioneering type life!

Right, so back to the point… !

I’m still mulling over whether it’s worth hiring help to lightly clean the house; we don’t typically care about super cleanliness unless people are coming over to stay.

Perhaps the solution to my inability to keep up with the shedding (by rugs and by dogs) is really just the robot vacuum? Or is cleaning that thing more trouble than it’s worth?

I’m actually back on the fence about the dishwasher – I need a better tutorial on how to load it or something.

We’ve experimented with ordering in a little bit more during the hectic times using coupons and deals. It’s absolutely a load off my brain and energy to not think about what to cook on delivery days but I’m not in love with the offerings all the time and without a deal it’s not quite cost effective enough to win me over. Still, we’re playing with the idea of scheduling delivery twice a month and economizing by buying and cooking more fresh produce regularly.

Is it weird that the only outsource candidates are cooking and cleaning? Everything else seems to require our input/judgement calls: looking for deals, managing the household finances (though I am now outsourcing our taxes because BRAIN), routine shopping and tidying, laundry, dog medical care. Of course I do enjoy doing laundry, and most of those other things, so probably that’s why it doesn’t make the list.

It’s not like we have vast sums of money to spend on this stuff, I’m just pondering aloud while I figure out how to maximize the money we do spend and the time we could use more wisely.

What would make your lives easier?

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Just a little (link) love: Coping and beloved companions

LinkLive

I don’t have it in me to collect the best links and reading this week. My heart remains weighted with grief; we’re missing our best boy so very terribly.

So in his memory, and to cope since I can’t look at his (MANY) photos yet, I’d like to open it up to you to share pictures of your furry friends at rest or at play.

@miktacular, with Lemons the corgi, and @insomniaclabrat, with Pod, were kind enough to share some wonderful pictures and stories on Twitter and I’d appreciate it if you could/would too.

I’ll start…

Lemons meeting a St. Bernard

Pod, lounging

Sleeping Aussie(?)-like puppy

Over to you.

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An absolutely shattering loss

I’m still hardly about to talk about it, still leaning on PiC and some close friends very heavily to explain why I’ve been so quiet except for some heartbroken sobs on Twitter, but it feels wrong to continue on not saying anything at all.

I can’t memorialize him yet, I can barely accept that this is true, much less find the words to properly eulogize him that won’t further destroy me in the doing.

When I lost Mom, I almost viciously forced myself to say she was gone. It was both scourge and self flagellation to force myself to say those words I knew to be true and desperately needed not to be; a soul-scouring attempt to face the truth and absolve myself of my failings in taking care of her. It didn’t work but it kept the guilt and the grief somewhat at bay for months.

This is … in some ways, this is almost worse. In the suddenness, in the senselessness, in the overwhelming rawness of prostrating grief, I can’t bring myself to cope as I once did. Because he was our responsibility and I cannot absolve myself of the failure to protect him.

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

We didn’t tame him, we just gave him a new life with us, somewhat pampered though he hardly seemed to notice, and he was coming into his own in these few short years as my wonderfully loving, opinionated and constant “coworker”, my therapy dog, we called him.

PiC was his favorite person in the entire world, you couldn’t match his dance of joy upon being reunited with his papa even after just a few minutes’ absence, and together we were a family. There wasn’t a person, dog lover or not, who didn’t fall for his charmingly quiet, happy personality; many became convinced they wanted a dog “just like him”, after a single visit.

He was our cat-dog, we joked, he being thoroughly exasperated by the hugs I always wanted to give him, and mostly keeping his distance lest I pet him too much. But he clearly loved us. He had a funny way of insisting on family time, staying by our side no matter how late it was, no matter how annoyed he was that it was another late work night; he kept us both in view at all times as if simply by being in the middle, he ensured we stayed “together”.

He’s licked me on purpose exactly once, as an apology for terribly scraping up my foot; he’s inspected PiC’s awful injuries and given them a healing lick but no more than necessary.

As clumsy as the classic bull in the china shop, and yet the most gentle, non reactive companion to any infant or toddler whether he knew them or not, we always knew he’d make the best big brother.

And now our beloved Doggle is gone. We have no reasons and we have no explanations. The heart of our little family is gone and we don’t know how to bear it.

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