Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Failed Tubal Ligation

My tubal ligation failed.

Yep, I got pregnant again.

I should be surprised, but I am not. After my perfectly placed and still-present IUD failed, and I was taken to the depths of shock and surprise, I guess my ability to have faith and be shocked in the birth control arena has been eradicated. I certainly did not have any faith in my tubal ligation. 

I wanted to. I hoped that I was wrong not to believe in it, but ultimately, I knew.

I even made jokes about it. "Well, if a tubal is going to fail, it's going to be mine!" I told Nate that I didn't trust it and he should back it up with a vasectomy. He didn't. Why would he? Why listen to your crazy wife?

This month, two weeks after missing my period, I was looking at this positive pregnancy test. I felt hollow, I wanted to laugh because it was just so fucking ridiculous, I felt numb.

The next day, I was looking at another positive pregnancy test, and two days after that, I was looking at two more positive pregnancy tests at my OB/GYN's office.

Concerned about an ectopic pregnancy, my OB/GYN (who was in complete denial that I could possibly be pregnant) inspected my fallopian tubes via ultrasound and found nothing. In my uterus, he found what was not a 6-week pregnancy, if we were to go by the date of my last period, but what could be a roughly three-week pregnancy, indicating that I either ovulated very late and was only three weeks pregnant, or the not-viable pregnancy stopped progressing after three weeks and I just hadn't miscarried it yet.

He ordered a blood draw to check my hCG (the pregnancy hormone) level, and that night, I started bleeding. The next day, the results came back with a level of 89, which is pretty low. 

I kept bleeding and knew without a doubt that I was losing the pregnancy. Yet, I was also nauseous with morning sickness. I was having weird starchy cravings and gaining weight. My boobs looked like I had turned into a zombie; veins pregnant with excessive blood protruding across them like a road map.

The blood draw done two days later showed that the hCG level had dropped to 48, which given the amount of bleeding that I was having, was what we expected.

The pregnancy was not viable and I appear to have lost it, and given that I never wanted it in the first place, I am fine. I know those words are harsh, but they are 100% honest.

I am also angry. Not because I lost it; because it even happened in the first place. Not that the world needs more examples of "unfair" but here's a glaring one: There are people all over this world, today, in this moment, who would give anything to have even one child, and I have done everything short of resorting to abstinence within my marriage and I still cannot keep from getting pregnant. What cruel, unfair distribution to those who want to be pregnant and have children and are struggling to or never will. I know some of those people. I have seen the tears and bottomless pain in their eyes, and it does not land on me lightly.

Nate and I were that couple that said, if we never have kids, we'll be fine. We will not take drastic measures to become pregnant, or even find out who has the problem that is preventing us from having children. We will accept our fate. 

And here we have three, with a fourth lost. We never expected three, we never tried for even one of our beautiful boys. I don't understand it, and I never will. It is what it is.

But the world is not fair, and I need to step off of my soapbox.

I now have no idea what to do with myself. I'm thinking of making a cape for me, emblazoned with "Super Uterus," and a cape for Nate emblazoned with "Super Sperm" and we could be some kind of super heroes. We could fight crime! Or better yet, we could spread our excessive fertility to others. The Super Fertiles!

Maybe we could perfect some kind of magical touch. Or a special cape move. "We now pass on our super fertility to you." And then we'd vanish into the night and the recipients will become pregnant over and over and have many babies.

On a more realistic level, I could have the entire length of my fallopian tubes removed, effectively (ha.ha.ha.) cutting off my ability to get pregnant. Nate could get a vasectomy that probably wouldn't take, given our luck. My original tubal ligation was a "cut and burn" kind; the doctor removed a roughly half-inch section of each tube and cauterized the open ends, from what I recall.

In the meantime, the OB/GYN wants to see my hCG level drop to zero before he does anything. The last draw, done a week ago, showed that it's still at 37. I will get another draw tomorrow and hopefully it'll be much lower so we can get on with things. So I don't have to be afraid that if Nate breathes on me, I'll get pregnant.

I guess that's it for now. For once, I don't know how to end a blog post. All I can do is shake my head and say, "holy shit."

Actually, I do have one more thing to say. I took that picture of the test so I could text it to a friend to ask her if she read it as "positive" like I was reading it. (Talk about denial.) And now I am really glad I did, because it's something tangible for me to have of #4 that wasn't to be.

You happened. You couldn't stay, but you happened.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

The Dichotomy of Parenthood

Sometimes, when I'm dealing with the boys, I don't feel like myself. Especially if I'm frustrated at them or disciplining them, which I never want to be but seem to constantly be, I think, What is it with these kids and who is this woman yelling at them? When is their mom going to come get them and deal with this shit? This isn't who I am.

Seven and a half years later, it still hasn't fully hit me that I'm a mom, that I have kids, and no one is going to come get them. I am it. I have no idea why the switch still hasn't flipped in my brain. It took years and years for me to even feel like I am married, and over ten years later, sometimes it still seems like I am playing house.

This isn't to say that I'm not taking marriage and motherhood seriously; it's just that often I still feel like I am a young girl, someone with her whole life ahead of her, and it hasn't set in that I have arrived at the age that I always saw as "my future." I don't always realize that I have set down this path that has brought me a husband and three sons, probably because this is never what I saw my life being so it's hard to grasp that this is what it is.

I've found myself in this vortex of responsibility, worrying about how everything I do or don't do affects these three small people. I am responsible for keeping these little boys alive on a 24-hour basis. I am a mother. My mind rejects the weight of this realization, often.

How can I be a MOM? I am just a kid myself! it screams. And, as if to prove its own point, I am flooded with memories of when that was actually true.

Sometimes, I am a little girl in my parents' front yard, looking at the flowers that have grown in the springtime. I remember these small purple ones, I remember the way they smelled, and that I loved them. I can smell the warm grass. One of our numerous cats might have come up and wound itself around my legs. I can hear a purr and feel the peace that sitting with a pet I loved, next to the flowers that I loved, brought.

Maybe I am playing dress-up with the hoop skirts that were in the spare bedroom closet.

Sometimes I am a teenager, learning how to throw a tight spiral in the street with my dad. I  can smell the football. I am positioning my fingers just so on the laces, snapping my wrist just right, laughing at some inane remark my dad has made. 

Or I am in my room, listening to Motley Crue or Metallica or Ministry on my Walkman or later, Discman as I drift off to sleep.

I might be walking though my college campus or sitting in class or out partying. Maybe I'm at work waiting tables, but I'm not remembering the job I did because I hated it, I am remembering my coworkers and the incredible fun I had with them.

In a flash, my mind takes me to the lighter days, where the only person I had to take care of was myself, when I wasn't this person who has to discipline and say "no" and be this... mom
This ADULT. 
Paradoxically, I would never actually want to return to my youth.

The roles of adulthood and parenthood are sometimes an ill-fitting, scratchy coat. I don't always feel comfortable in it, I can't wait to shrug out of it at the end of the day and scratch my skin all over and breathe.

Then there are times that I'll catch sight of something inane, such as Brandon's trike or Ethan's helmet or Connor's drawing, and something will flood through me, striking so deep and in places so primal that I know only my children can reach there. Or when times are calm and we are laying on the couch and I have my arms around a son or one of them has wrapped himself around me, I feel a sense of wholeness that only they bring, and I know that I am right where I am supposed to be. 

I never could have anticipated not only the amount of emotions that parenthood brings, but the depth of them, too. Before kids, I pictured my emotional parenting palette consisting of lots of love, some frustration, some fear, some pride, maybe some occasional guilt, and... basically that's it. It was impossible for me to have any idea how much I would actually feel, and especially that I could feel an entire range of emotions in the span of a single day. 

I had no idea about all that parenting would bring out in me, that it would make me fight to find out who I am when I thought I already knew, that it would force me to look into the darkest corners of my soul and see the good and the bad, that it would force me to grow up when I don't feel like I have the tools and especially the desire to be grown up.

But when something critical happens and I am called to the plate, I somehow find it within myself to hit a home run. When my kids are sick, I handle it and handle it well. When one of the boys had a circumcision gone wrong and he was in danger of bleeding to death, I handled it. When Brandon was choking to death on a broken piece of plastic, I handled it. And on and on the list goes. When the shit hits the fan, I put on my face mask and walk into the stinky spatter. 

Even though I am capable of being a grown-up when I need to be, I'll probably never really "grow up," I have realized. And I'm fine with that. I am a kid at heart, younger than my years, and as long as I keep my kids alive and well and am a functional parent nearly every moment, I guess it's okay if I feel like I'm still playing "dress-up." 

Although not as a doofy, awkward version of Scarlet O'Hara anymore, as MOM.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Three Little Boys Talk About Their Future

While putting the boys to bed last night, I gleaned some rather important information from them about their futures, and thought I'd record it here because I'm going to forget what they said within a week (who am I kidding- tomorrow) if I don't.

Somehow, the subject of girlfriends and kids came up, which prior to having kids, talking with little kids about them having kids would have made my skin crawl, but now that I understand the utter randomness and innocence of little kids, it seems perfectly normal. Anyway, all three boys offered up their plans for those two things and here's what they had to say.

Ethan: Will have girlfriends but is not going to have kids because "kids are too much work and I don't want to do all that work." He'd rather just "have all the fun."
I have to say, I'm impressed with his observation that kids are a lot of work.

Connor: Is never going to have girlfriends OR kids because he's just going to live with Mama all of his life.
Newsflash, kid: No you're not.

Brandon: Is going to have lots of girlfriends and three kids, because "three is how old I am!"

He's been prepping for fatherhood for a while now, the kid LOVES babies and I even bought him one that he takes care of.

He does have a long way to go, though. Baby is frequently starved and left under Connor's bed. If I don't remind Brandon to "change her diaper" once a month, it'd never get changed.

Then Ethan changed his answer to he's going to have seven kids (which is how old he is) and "because that's a lot of kids, I better have two girlfriends."

I let him know that it's probably a better plan to have one girlfriend, marry her, then just have the seven kids with her. It's probably not going to be easier to have a lot of kids with different women.

He giggled and asked me what I would say if he had seven kids. I told him I'd say this:

Good luck, son. Good, sweet luck.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

If Ethan Had To Write A School Essay

If Ethan had to write a "What I Did Over Christmas Break" essay upon returning to school, it would probably go something like this:

The first day of break was spent alternating between SpongeBob and Paw Patrol episodes and making bowls of Cheerios for myself and my brothers for dinner because mom was too sick to get off the couch and Dad was at work. My brothers and I were sick, too, but since I had been sick since the weekend before and got everyone else sick, I was starting to feel a bit better.

When we asked mom for Cheez-Its after we ate our Cheerios, she even said yes! It easily makes my top ten list of best dinners ever. It'd probably be #8, ranking after that time we went to a late birthday party and only ate chips and the frosting off the cupcakes.

That night, we skipped bathing and put ourselves to bed for the first time ever. It was kind of sad not having mom tuck us in but she looked like death. Her eyes looked funny. Um, kind of like glass.

We spent the next four days playing hours and hours of video games and watching t.v. while mom and dad, who also got sick and couldn't go to work, slept and moped around on the couch. It was awesome! They didn't care what we did! We didn't get dressed until the afternoon, ate whatever we wanted, and pretended not to hear or smell mom farting her brains out, which is what she does when she gets really sick. She likes to say that girls don't fart and hides hers from us but we really know that she does fart because the girls at school fart, so how could she not fart, too? But it's okay, she doesn't get much dignity being the only girl living with four guys, so we'll let her have this shred.

One day we ate only fruit roll-ups, apple, and Doritos for lunch. Mom didn't even care! She just kept saying "sure" in this half-dead voice to anything we wanted, as long as it didn't require her to get up.

We also kept coughing a lot and mom said that "it sounds like a TB ward in here" and "like she's a hundred years old." I don't know what a TB ward is but it sounds awful. My littlest brother, Brandon, only covered his mouth like half the time and coughed in our faces all the time. It was so gross, especially when he coughed so hard he threw up all over the floor.

But the cool part about mom having a cough was she didn't really yell at us when we did stupid stuff and got in trouble because she didn't have the energy to yell and also, yelling made her have a coughing fit. She only yelled if we did something really bad. Then we knew we were in for it.

One of the nights, mom finally got up and made us dinner, then dad got all mad when we refused to eat it. They wrapped it up and made us eat it the next night, which really sucked.

What also sucked was we had to stay inside because mom and dad couldn't take us anywhere, even though my brother Connor asked like, two or three times a day for them to take us somewhere. He just doesn't get it.

But on the fourth day, they finally let us play outside! We've been begging and begging and we finally got to! I wanted to stay outside forever. We were so excited and raced out the door, then played for 28 whole minutes. When we came inside and told mom we were done, she said "Of course you are. That's awesome," in this way that I think is called "sarcastic" or something like that? Where she doesn't really mean what she says?

Then we told her that we accidentally threw our Frisbee on the neighbor's roof and she said something about being so excited to climb on a roof when she's sick. I think that was more of that sarcastic stuff.

We also went to Grandpa and Grandma's house over Christmas, which was a whole lot of fun! Since we went in the hot tub a couple of times, we didn't even have to take "real" baths or showers! Mom said "the hot tub counts" whatever that means.

The CRAZIEST part was I heard Santa! I really did! I heard him walking down the hall and there was a tiny crack in the open door that I could see out but I didn't really see him, I heard him. It was awesome and scary and exciting.

Mom's note: So, the deal was, the boys slept in Grandpa and Grandma's house with them and Nate and I slept in the house across the street (they were cat-sitting for the owner, and she said they could have their guests- us- stay there). So before we left our house, I hid the presents and filled stockings in the back of our SUV and when we got to my in-law's, left them there to put out after the boys went to bed on Christmas Eve.

Except, at like one in the morning, just after we had gone to bed, I jolted awake with the realization that we had not, in fact, put out the presents. Ahhhh shit. So I got up, got dressed, went across the street, got the presents out of the car, snuck into my in-law's house, and my boots made the clomping noise that Ethan heard as I went down the hallway, then half-terrified that they would get up and catch me, I shakily put all the presents out and got the holy hell out of there.

I'm not sure if I should punch myself in the face for nearly blowing Christmas for them, or pat myself on the back for not blowing Christmas. It can go either way...

In the morning, we got up and opened all our presents from Santa! I loved it, but out of everything I got, my very favorite thing was the notepad, pencil, and eraser set I got! More notepads to write my books in! 

Mom's note again: Seriously? Out of everything he got, a two-dollar notepad set was his favorite!? I'm shaking my head a bit, but also proud of him because it just goes to show, kids are shockingly- and fantastically- simple and easy to please. They don't need expensive, ridiculous crap to be happy. ALSO, hells yeah, my kid writes books! Swoon.

My favorite present that my mom and dad got for Christmas from Grandpa and Grandma is a record player. I'd never seen one of those before! 

But it's pretty cool to watch the big records spin around on the player thing, although we do have to stay like 5 feet back from it because mom loses her mind whenever we get too close to it and especially if my younger brothers touch it. She's very, very protective of it and we kind of see a crazy look in her eyes when she's caught one of them touching it so we stay way back from it.  What I love about it is we put on music and dance and mom laughs and calls us dorks, but I can tell by the look on her face that she really likes watching us.

The rest of break was spent playing with Legos and writing my books and playing video games. LOTS of video games. I don't think we're supposed to play video games for that long every day, but mom and dad didn't even care for once. As long as we were quiet in the morning, we could get up and play them while they slept a bit longer. It was so awesome! 

They would have our milk cups ready in the fridge and I know how to get our breakfast bars out of the cupboard. I don't know why they want to sleep in so much. Why don't they want to get up with the sun every morning like we do? Why are they always telling us that we should sleep in and just because we wake up and it's light outside, that doesn't mean that we have to get up. It's not like you have school, they say. Just go back to sleep, they say.

Mom says this every weekend, too.

I had a great break. I'm happy to go back to school, but I can't wait until spring break.


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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ready To Retire From This Phase of Parenting

Now that my last kid is out of diapers, and I have a mostly self-sufficient seven-year-old and somewhat self-sufficient five-year-old, I'm so over all this care-taking stuff, you guys.

I mean, I've been over it for a long time, but now that I can see that light at the end of the tunnel, it's like, YOU'RE NOT BRUSHING YOUR TEETH YET? I still have to get you dressed? Wipe your butt? Watch you in the street? What is this shit? Get it together, kid!

Poor Brandon. He's such a sweetheart, especially for a three-year-old, but for Christ's sake, I cannot wait until he's like, five, and way more capable of doing things for himself. I'm so ready to retire from this "parenting young kids" phase for good and move onto the next one; one that I think will be a "much better and more fun for everyone!" phase.

I have major short-timer's syndrome.

Those first couple of years after Brandon was born were no joke. For those who aren't familiar, when he came along, Ethan had just turned four and Connor, two. It was hard-core insane, intense, a fucking soul-suck of drudgery and frustration, constant care-taking, crying (them and me), and man alive, I am so glad that is ending.

So as Brandon moves- with agonizing slowness- closer to the dream ages that Ethan and Connor are at, I'm having trouble with my patience and am finding myself trying to skip out on all the care-taking stuff I have hated since basically day one, like baths... I hate that job so much that it's like Oh I can let him go another day! and I do and then he'll smell like a goat and it's like, nope, not a good idea! Can't be that lazy! So I'll throw him in the shower with me to avoid baths at all costs (even though he's now making the observation that I "have hair on my penis." Yes, I am a woman.)

Making sure my impatience doesn't cross over into neglect is a bit of trial and error...

I'm (mostly) kidding, no need to dial up CPS.

Another AMAZING thing I see on the horizon is it's getting easier to take the boys out in public. It's still not ideal and I try to avoid it all costs, but we're moving away from times like this and this and I could not be happier. 

Last Saturday, we met a friend at a jumpy-house place, and not only did I not even take a diaper bag (a risky venture- what if Brandon pissed himself out of excitement at ALL THE JUMPY HOUSES?) I also didn't have to watch them like a hawk. I got to sit at a table and actually talk to my friend while the kids played! I kind of felt... like an adult human person type thing.

Nothing like the time I took them to Chuck E. Cheese's (when the boys were five and under) by myself for a birthday party, only to realize within five minutes of arriving that I was in completely over my head and there was no way I could possibly keep my eye on all three of them at once.

While I was pulling Connor off of the skee ball lane that he was trying to crawl up to better get his ball in the holes, Brandon sat down at a complete stranger's table (out of my sight) and started eating some of their pizza. At that exact moment, Ethan got too far up in one of those blind tunnels and I couldn't see him, so when I actually had a moment to look for him and couldn't find him, I thought he had been kidnapped or was being molested in the bathroom.

We've never been back.

But there is hope that soon, I'll be able to take them to the cold shitty pizza and mostly broken games wonderland by myself and not have shit like that happen. 

Hope, people. It springs eternal.

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