Not trying to be exclusive with the post below, but I kind of have to be. Email or text me if you want the password, but be warned; it’s not that interesting. Just an angry vent from a sleep-deprived woman.
I can’t remember if I mentioned it here, but last April I started a photography business. I am strictly a portrait photographer, and mainly shoot families and newborns.
One day last week, a fellow photographer approached me about joining a well-known organization that offers free newborn-style and family portraiture for families with stillborn children. These volunteer (professional) photographers go to the hospital within hours of the baby’s passing to provide this service.
Imagine that for a minute – you are a stranger to these people who are experiencing the worst tragedy of their lives and you are there to document the brief time they have with their beloved child.
What an enormous responsibility. The emotion must be overwhelming, right? Well… today I put my foot in the water so to speak.
This morning, I “assisted” at one of these shoots. It was beautiful. He was beautiful. 7 lbs. 7 oz. of perfect baby boy. His parents were completely blindsided. They had no reason to think that they wouldn’t be bringing this little man home. My heart broke for them. I cried for them as I held their precious son, and very carefully cradled him into new poses for the photos. I made sure he was in the most comfortable positions possible, and that he was treated with nothing but love and respect. I even found myself rocking him as the other photographer changed the backgrounds, or adjusted props.
And that’s when I “got it.” This is why these ladies do this. These little babies need to be remembered, and showered with as much love as their tiny bodies can hold. These parents need to be protected from what becomes blur; their memories. The heart tries to hide tragedy, and often does a spectacular job. The details matter. The way his hair shined… the way his feet perfectly filled the palm of your hand, and the way his skin felt next to your cheek. All things these parents will never experience again with these babies.
I’ve got to do this. It is going to be amazing. It is going to be ridiculously hard, but so very worth it.
Wish me luck.
Last week was ridiculous. Valentine’s day was a nightmare, and it seems that we simply cannot find a resolution to problems that should have been solved MONTHS ago.
I have told you all before that last spring, Lucy was diagnosed with Asp.erger’s. It is a form of high-functioning autism. The key here is “HIGH-FUNCTIONING”. This diagnosis has been a double edged sword in every way. Most children who have an autism spectrum disorder are diagnosed before they make it to public school. Lucy was only weeks away from turning 10 – meaning we are at a significant delay in teaching her to cope. No matter how many times I try to explain this to her public educators, it falls on deaf ears.
The week before school started we sat down with the administrators at her school, as well as with her teacher. The psychologist that we had been working with since April came as a support to us, and spent over an hour discussing things we have learned about how Lucy ticks. She offered solutions to how to handle behavior issues that were sure to crop up over the course of the year, and ways to prevent melt-downs all together. VERY simple things. Things like, sending home a weekly progress report with completed scores and highlighting missing work. Lucy very often forgets to turn in her completed work, so this is vital. It helps me, as her parent, know where she is truly struggling, allowing me to offer extra help at home. It also give Lucy instant accountability. She has to learn to turn her work in. If her teacher and I are on the same page (something our psychologist stresses emphatically) we are much more likely to teach her.
Pretty simple, right? Just a note on Friday explaining what was not turned in. So far – 6 months in to the school year – I have received exactly TWO progress reports.
All of our requests that were AGREED to, where written into a 504 plan. It is a legally binding agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is to ensure that Lucy has the same chance to a fair education. Basically, we are trying to compensate for some of the things Lucy has not learned yet to do on her own because of the combined ADHD/Aspergers. We are not trying to make excuses for her. Eventually, she will HAVE to learn these skills, but it takes time. We are working hard to teach her, but we NEED TIME!
Last Thursday I went in to the school to check on Lucy’s medication. She should have run out on Feb. 8th, and I had not heard anything about it. When I asked the school secretary (who despises me) she huffed about having to look it up, then told me Lucy still had 16 pills left, or 8 more doses. Mind you – this was 3 days after she should have run out completely, for a total of 11 missed doses. The secretary then gave me some BS excuse that they reason she had so many was because she didn’t get them during the week of parent-teacher conferences because school was out at 1:25 each day. Also, there was a snow day. Oh, and a holiday. Here’s why that is absolutely unacceptable: 1) I account for school holidays when I send the medication. It is a controlled substance, and I can only get 30 doses at a time. I do not have extra, so I a meticulous about sending the correct amount of doses to the school. 2) Lucy is supposed to get her medication at 1:00 everyday. The early out excuse is ridiculous. Also, see reason 1. I don’t have extra for the days they don’t give it to her. At most, there should have been 3 extra doses because Lucy had been sick and missed 2 days of school, and also because of the snow day. 3, not 11.
On Valentine’s Day, Lucy was supposed to be getting a ride home with a friend. Because she is in a full-time Gifted and Talented Program, we do not live within her school’s boundaries. It is almost a 45 minute walk to the school, which she would have to do alone. Well, her friend’s mom forgot that she was supposed to be bringing Lucy home and left without her. When Lucy asked to call home for a ride, she was told that she couldn’t use the phone because “not wanting to carry your Valentine Box home is not an emergency, and you can only use the phone for emergencies.” End of discussion. Lucy walked home. She walked in at 4:10 pm. School is out at 3:25.
The same day, she was bullied pretty mercilessly by her classmates. He Valentine’s Box, that she had been so proud of, was now a source of ridicule. She made an adorable monster-themed box. The kids told her it was “a perfect self-portrait.” After she left for home, one of the kids threw snow all over it in order to smear the color.
I emailed the teacher about what had happened. She replied that the students had apologized, but that the kid that threw the snow denied it, and because Lucy didn’t SEE him do it (he was the only other kid outside with her) she didn’t do anything other than warn Lucy about making “false allegations.” Seriously.
I emailed the principal about the phone policy and the issue with the medication last Friday. I have yet to get a response.
My sister-in-law is a 2nd grade teacher in the same district that Lucy attends. She has been appalled by all of this. She has assured me over and over again that the things we have asked for are so tame. She doesn’t understand why we are having such issues at this school. Last Sunday, she was at my inlaw’s house visiting. She and my mother-in-law were discussing all of this, when my brother-in-law chimed in. He asked what a 504 plan was, then after my sister-in-law explained, proceeded to complain that “people who use those for ADHD or Asperger’s are abusing the system.” My sister-in-law defended Lucy, and tried to point out his ignorance, but still came home angry. She told me about it a couple of days later.
We have known for some time that this particular brother-in-law, and his wife do not like Lucy. They think she is a bad example to their kids, and have called her a “brat” on many occasions. At one point they even told their daughter (the closest cousin in age to Lucy) that she couldn’t play with her anymore. I don’t know why they are so mean to her. Lucy has never been cruel to their kids. They have been in normal little arguments about who had what toy first, but never anything serious enough to warrant his behavior. It’s just awesome that my daughter believes her uncle and aunt “hate” her.
I am ready to explode. I am fighting battles to my left and right, and can’t seem to win. I really don’t know what I am doing wrong. I am trying to be fair, but I’m about to just let the bitch out, and let her do her worst.
I have had enough! Poor Lucy is so sad all of the time. She is trying so hard to please everyone, and feels terrible because she just can’t do it. She told me the other day that she “ruins everything”. She wants so badly to be treated like the other kids so badly! It is so ridiculous that she is punished for things that are out of her control.
It occurred to me shortly after I posted my last entry about TTC#3, that maybe, just maybe I am NOT actually ready. So, I took it down. It is the first blog post I have EVER removed after publishing… does that tell you anything?
There’s a lot of flip-flopping going on in my head lately.
Here’s the thing – there is this pressure, like an AMAZING amount of pressure telling me that I need to jump back on the bandwagon. Let me give you a glimpse at the chaos in my mind:
1. I have a soon-to-be 11-year-old. I want her to be able to bond well with each of her siblings and I feel that time is running out. I mean, how likely is it for her to be “close” with a child that would be born that far behind her? And then what if we decide to have a 4th child?
2. I am 31 years old. I don’t want to be 60 at my child’s highschool graduation! (perhaps slightly exaggerated, but you get the point)
3. I don’t want a large gap between Emma and the next child we have. I want her to have a playmate – not be another little mommy.
4. We are paying yearly storage fees for our frozen embryos, but haven’t even decided if we are going to do a FET right out of the gate, or try on our own and save our frosties as “Plan B”. I crave the experience of being able to get pregnant without help; no pills, injections, or scans. Just some simple charting (no temps, just dates), and perhaps OPKs. I love knowing that there is a backup plan if we can’t do it on our own. At the same time, I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting the embryos we have. What if we DID conceive on our own, then decide our family is complete. What would we do with those 6 potential babies in the freezer? Place them for adoption? Dispose of them? Donate them?
5. Our current home is pretty small. It is hard to imagine 2 small children playing in this space. If we were to stay here (which we have to do for another 2 years, at least while Evan finishes school) we would have Lucy and Emma sharing a room and the baby in our room*. Emma is still in our room in a crib, which works out well for now but as soon as she can safely sleep in a twin bed she’ll be sharing with Lucy. This scares me already. Lucy is a difficult kid at times, and uses her room as a refuge. Not to mention the fact that we are entering that stage of teenage-tornado. Her room is a disaster more often than not. Emma plays in the family room, and only spends time in the bedroom for naps and bedtime, but still. I worry. We have already made strides to help Lucy accept the fact that it is Emma’s room too, even now. (Asperger’s makes some transitions require much more planning.)
6. I am scared beyond belief to get sucked back into the depression that comes with infertility. It has taken nearly 2 1/2 years to see just how bad it was. I am such a different person now than I was when we were TTC #2. Wrap your head around this: It took nearly 1/3 of my life to conceive Emma. Yikes. Not really chomping at the bit to be back in those shoes.
7. I know that I would like another baby, but right now I am so thrilled with just being able to let Emma be the baby. Lucy had this experience as well. Infants take up so much time that I’m nervous Emma would feel slighted. How do parents of children close in age manage this? Seriously, I’d love some insight… BU, Mrs. Gamgee? Any advice?
Do you see why I am going crazy? I want another baby, no doubt. It is just a matter of timing. I know that I would be THRILLED with a pregnancy at any time, but it’s the planning that kills me. Chance makes things so much easier… it’s just so damn unreliable!
*We do have a plan that would work if we had to put 3 kiddos in one room. It would just be a major pain, there would be enough room for them to function comfortably, though.
Do you ever just have those moments when you look at your life and realize how truly lucky you are? If not, I highly recommend it.
Tonight, it just hit me really hard. In the middle of so much chaos around me, with so much sadness in the lives of people I care for so much – I am so very lucky.
There are a lot of things in my life that are not the way that I expected them to be. Most of my “unfulfilled dreams” are due to a lack of financial planning in our younger years, followed by a decade of bad luck, and lots of money spent on fertility treatments (for that I have no regrets!). We are not home owners, and are a long ways away from ever buying a house. It will probably be at least 10 more years. We are a single car family, and simply cannot afford another car payment right now. We never take vacations, and we don’t really “go out” a lot.
And yet, I have everything I truly want. I really am so completely happy. And I know exactly who I have to thank for my happiness: Evan.
This man is so perfect for me, and it would be impossible for me to ever tell you how much I love him. I doubt the words exist.
No, we are not perfect. We argue pretty much every single day. He makes me CRAZY! He can always find something wrong with my cooking, or at least suggest some way for me to improve every. single. recipe. regardless of how proud I am of my culinary skills. I can’t remember the last time he paid me a compliment, and it is certainly NOT in his nature to help out around the house unprompted. He is a total sports addict, which makes me 12 shades of crazy because I LOATHE sports (an occasional baseball game is not out of the question but as a general rule – I am allergic to all things sporty).
And yet, I still dream about him. Seriously. I do. At least twice a week, and not in a bad way. Always good dreams. He still holds my hand under the covers every night as I sleep, and is the first to back me up when I am angry about something (unrelated to him). He respects my wishes as a mother and is always very quick to offer support when it comes to our girls. Evan always lets me go hang out with my girlfriends whenever I want, and never makes me feel guilty about it. When my back is bad or I am sick, he bends over backward to make sure I am taken care of. He has only missed ONE parent-teacher conference for Lucy (and only because he was out-of-town for work) but has never missed a single softball game, play, or school function for her. He has literally used vacation time to come home from work early to play in the snow with Lucy, and when I ended up having to take Emma to the local children’s hospital for tests, he dropped everything he was doing at work and found a way to be there with us.
He always kisses me goodbye in the morning, and tells me “I love you” before we end any phone conversation regardless of how long we have talked. He eats the outside edges of my brownies so that I don’t have to eat the tough part, and always lets me have the last of the chocolate milk. And on the rare occasion that I burn something (like one side of a grilled cheese sandwich) he pretends he doesn’t notice.
The first thing that attracted me to Evan was his looks. Shallow, yes. But hey, I was 15 the first time I remember meeting him. Evan has the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen. They are vibrant and bright, and so very easy to get lost in. Cheesy, I know, but completely true. He also has very thick, dark hair – almost black. This combination has always made me weak in the knees. He is tall – 6’2″, has perfect skin (I kind of hate him for that), and ridiculously thick,long eyelashes. Both of our girls have his eyes/eyelash combo – they are stunning. Although he doesn’t look the same as the day I married him (neither do I, dangit), he is still ridiculously attractive. Actually, the recovery nurse teased me after I had fully come-to, because when I initially woke up from my surgery on Tuesday, I asked her to please go get my husband from the waiting room. I told her she wouldn’t have any trouble finding him because he was “the cute one”.
Evan has been taking such impeccable care of me while I’ve been recovering. He took 2 weeks off work so that he could be here with me, and I haven’t had to ask for a single thing because he is so proactive about things that he makes sure that everything is within arms reach. He has been taking to Lucy to school every morning, and has not asked me to do a single thing to help care for Emma throughout the day.
I married the perfect man for me.
I don’t know why it hit me so hard tonight, but I am glad for this reaffirmation. I have everything I ever wanted, and Evan has given it all to me. He made me a mother, and he continually makes me a better person. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I am eternally grateful I did. He truly is the best thing to ever happen to me.
This post doesn’t even come close to what I was trying to say, but the bottom line is that I am so completely and ridiculously in love with my husband that it makes me a little weepy. I hope you all at least get a glimpse of that.
Consider this a Public Service Announcement (only applies to those without common sense.):
I am apparently one of those women WITHOUT common sense. I woke up the day after surgery feeling great! I decided that I would be just fine to complete my bi-monthly grocery shopping trip (3+ hours), and a solo trip to the local Sam’s Cl.ub. I fought Evan tooth-and-nail all day, and regardless of his constant insistence, I decided that I knew best and could handle an only slightly modified routine. Like, I was off diaper duty, and didn’t cook. Pretty much all I changed. I felt good. Why should I slow down?
Why?!?! Why am I so damn dumb?!?!
I just had 2 organs removed from my body, and somehow decided that that wasn’t enough of a reason to lay my ass down for a day or two.
This morning? Not so pretty. I ended up sleeping through most of the day, and woke up around 3:15. Apparently, I was tired. Ice packs have been my best friend, and I have one strapped to my abdomen constantly.
Yep. I’m brilliant. Who knew that my gallbladder and appendix contained the majority of my brain cells? Nice.
I’m totally effed.