Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Anger and other possibly inappropriate emotions

Andrew tells me that in our current situation, it's normal to feel anger toward the person in your family who is sick and the cause of throwing your life off kilter.

I'm not sure I'm actually angry at my sick family member, but I certainly am ticked off at the world at large. Could the timing of this emergency have been worse?

Only slightly. It could have happened last November to coincide with Ruth's birth. That would have been a certifiably worse time to have to deal with a sick family member in a different country. Learning how to take care of a brand new baby who was a slow gainer and took over an hour to feed, while spending hours in a hospital waiting room would have been horrendous. As it is, this emergency has occurred just as we were moving back to Canada, are trying to find a house, and were to go on vacation.

Of course you can't pick the timing of emergencies. That's kind of what makes such an occurrence an emergency, right?

As I mentioned in my previous post, Andrew had to deal with the move more-or-less on his own. He managed. Most everything was taken care of successfully--except for our car. Since our car was purchased in the US, we have to import it into Canada, and to do that you have to file paperwork with US Customs 72 hours before you plan to cross the boarder. Apparently Andrew missed the deadline by a minute or two. Seriously, a minute or two.

We have to go back to the US with our car for 72 hours so we can import it. That's great. Just what we needed, to figure out when to make it back to the US to import our car with everything going on.

In some ways, this emergency has helped our house hunt, in that we're here and can look at more houses (so far we've seen 31). In other ways it only adds to the stress we're under. We saw a house we liked last Thursday night, but ultimately we felt we couldn't deal with trying to put in an offer. There was too much going on in our lives. The outlook for my family member didn't look good. How could we rationally contemplate the purchase of a house?

So we didn't. We let the house opportunity slide  by.

Then there's our vacation. We were supposed to be in England right now. We should have visited Lyme Park (aka Pemberly) on Saturday, and spent Sunday in Manchester. On Monday we were to travel to St. Bees in order to begin walking the Wainwright Coast-to-Coast trail today (Tuesday). That's what we were supposed to be doing. I've wanted to do the Coast-to-Coast for, oh, I don't know, 5 years? At first we didn't think we could do it this year either (because we now have Ruth to take care of), but then people kept telling us to go for it. The only thing Ruth cares about right now is whether or not Mommy and Daddy are around. And she loves being outside.

This is where most of my anger and despair is concentrated, the lost vacation. I'm trying not to mope about it, but it's hard. We haven't taken a vacation since I graduated from library school--5 years ago. Plus we lost most of the money we spent in planning the trip, and we don't know when we'll have time to take a holiday later in the summer or fall. Andrew starts work in mid-July and my mat leave ends in November before Christmas break. The need to travel back to the US in order to import our car feels like a booby prize.

And then I remind myself how I shouldn't be whining about my lost vacation when my family member is extremely sick.

Then I feel like I'm a bitch.

So that's where I am. I'm grumpy, annoyed, and overall stressed-out. I'm trying not to be, and I'll get over it, but it will take a while.

I'll try to find something more cheerful to post next time.



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Family Emergency

Without going into any details, a member of my family is very sick.

Andrew and I had to scramble to find tickets on the earliest flight out of Boston (that we thought we could reasonably make) last Monday (June 8th) morning and get back to Ontario. Have you ever had to find a flight last minute? It sucks. 'Compassion' tickets don't really seem to be a thing. When I explained we needed to fly due to an emergency there wasn't much response from the customer service agent, and there was definitely no adjustment in cost. It didn't help that we needed to transport our cat, too, as we had no idea when we'd be back to Somerville.

I'm, in fact, not going back to Somerville. We didn't want to drag our daughter and cat back and forth from Somerville to Ontario twice more in such a short period of time. Our move out of the US had been planned for this week anyway (June 15th and 16th), but now Andrew has to take care of everything on his own. We're relieved we'd always planned to hire professional movers to pack up our apartment. At least that means Andrew doesn't have to box things up on his own. It does mean, however, that he's had to run around like a mad man to finish up things we'd meant to do together.

So, now I'm in Ontario with Ruth, and Tabitha (our cat) waiting. Waiting for things. Waiting for illness to run it's course, waiting for Andrew to join me.

I don't know what to do. I'm no good at offering emotional support, as I have a strangely detached view of illness. I get emotional over a lot of things: Ruth's refusal to sleep, rejection letters, music, but death I do not. Andrew thinks it's because of my stint in nursing; that I've seen illness and old age in ways many people haven't, but that might be the nice way of saying that in instances such as this I'm a cold, hard...well, let's just say I'm cold and hard.

And I'm getting tired to talking to people and being around people that aren't my daughter and Andrew. I'm especially getting tired of making small talk with people who insist on oogling Ruth--which is happening a lot at the hospital. I get she's cute and all, and most people aren't trying to touch or interact with her, but I have to do a lot of: "She's 6.5 months," (people often ask how old he is as Ruth is usually dressed in green, blue, or white), and saying "Thank you," when people comment on her appearance or her big blue eyes.

Today I'm hermitting. Owing to a bad sleep night for Ruth (and therefore me), I'm staying in. I think I'm going to have to spend less time at the hospital in general, as it's not doing anything good for Ruth's sleep and stress levels, Hopefully today's rest will help me rejuvenate, and then Andrew will be back tomorrow.

So, that's all I feel like I'm at liberty to say right now. It helps to get a few of these thoughts off my chest. There are many more, but at this time they're not for sharing on the internet.



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Six months have come and gone, how is that possible?

I haven't written a post in a while.

Ruth's six months, and well, I haven't had the time. Or, perhaps I haven't had the mental capacity to focus long enough to complete a well thought out, sensible post. Also, I've been desperately trying to use what down time I have to write and edit a new manuscript, while trying to prepare another one (the first of the series) for submission.

I thought I'd mark the beginning of the second half of Ruth's first year (convoluted, I know), by reflecting on a few of my experiences thus far of motherhood.

Feeding and Weight Gain: I'm so glad I stuck with breastfeeding. The first 8 weeks or so were hard, over the next 8 weeks Ruth continued to improve. Her eating time dropping little-by-little. Andrew and I continued to check her weight weekly on our kitchen scale until she outgrew its capacity (around 3 months). Now, my little girl is a speed eater, completing a feed in about 10 minutes (both sides), and has gained her way up into the 8th percentile. It was hard to start, but I feel like my rocky start goes to show that if you really want to succeed at breastfeeding, you can.

We've now added solids into the mix. I have A LOT of thoughts on eating and meals times--which I might write about at some point. At first I had absolutely no intention of giving Ruth solids before 6 months, but she looked so darned interested when we were having dinner,...and we were curious to see what she would do. We've started with well cooked, mashed vegetables. It seemed like the right thing to try, and so far she's been more than happy to take anything offered to her on a spoon. It's pretty adorable the way she tends to lean in, mouth open, as the spoon approaches. Often after dinner she will smack her lips together like an old man who lost his dentures--we think she's practicing eating.

Napping and Overnight Sleep: Unlike breastfeeding, napping, in particular, is still a work in progress. I had several incorrect notions of baby sleep before Ruth was born. One, I had an unreasonable daydream that Ruth would nap 1.5 hours in the morning, then 1.5 hours in the afternoon, then go to bed at 7:00 pm. WRONG! I also thought that Ruth would just fall asleep (for naps) when she was tired. WRONG AGAIN! I imagined I would have so much time to myself I wouldn't know what to do. SO, SO WRONG! Honestly, I often feel defeated in my failure to get Ruth to sleep consistently.

In my inexperience as a parent and child giver, I would say Ruth is a challenging napper. She gives clear tiredness indicators (pink eyebrows, chirpy vocalizations, trying to burrow into your chest, rubbing her eyes), but I find if I don't time the put down perfectly, I wind up with a battle on my hands. Sometimes Ruth wins (and doesn't sleep), and sometimes I win (and she does sleep)--but I take little pleasure in the victory. Sometimes we all wind up crying, and I certainly take no pleasure in that either. For now I'm trying to be as consistent in my attempts as possible, and I hope we'll both get things sorted at some point.

Overnight sleep...is getting better. I understand that many babies go through a series sleep regressions, and we went through a doozy of one at around 5 months. Ruth went from getting 6-7 hours of sleep from first put down, to her overnight feed, to not even making it past midnight many nights, then waking up once, if not twice more. It was as though she'd reverted to newborn sleeping skills (or lack of sleeping skills). It was tough. I think we put up with inconsistent sleeping (sometimes good, but often bad) for about 2 weeks before I insisted we create and adhere to a bedtime routine (bath, story, feed, song), and stick to a bedtime (7:10-7:20). Things are getting better.

Growth and Development: A lot changes in 6 months. We went from a having a tiny little peanut who felt as though she would break if we held her the wrong way, to still having a tiny peanut, but one who's solid, capable of holding up her head, taking her own weight on her feet (although she's incredibly unstable), can roll in both directions, and sit--albeit wobbly, and with a hand to steady her. She's trying to work out crawling by kicking her legs and trying to get up onto her knees, but she hasn't quite figured out what her arms are for in the process. Everything she can get into her mouth goes there--she's at that age. We also expect teeth to appear every day, although there's been nothing yet.

And the Rest of the Story: I'm trying to read to Ruth as much as possible. That's both picture books, and novels (that I'm really reading out loud for my own amusement, but hey!). My favourite picture book is 'Dinosaurumpous,' which one of my brother's got for her, and I'm working my way through Jane Austin's novels--I'll be lucky if I make it through Emma by the end of my mat leave (that would be the major 3, S&S, P&P, and E). I often get to the end of the day and wish I'd read more.

Then again, I often get to the end of the day and wish I'd done...more. More what? I don't know. Just more, more everything. More playing, more reading, more encouraging, more loving. I'm paranoid, and worried, which I suspect comes with the territory of being a new mother. I want to do everything right, which isn't possible, I know, so I guess I have to settle with doing my best and hoping it's enough.

Ruth's smiles are adorable, her laughs and giggles heart-warming, these things fuel my day, and help me get over, or at least cope with the moments when she's crying so hard I cry with her. I was long uninterested in having children. They weren't my thing, I didn't know how to interact with them. I wasn't sure I ever wanted a baby.

I love Ruth more than I can say. I loved her when she was still in my womb--I wanted to meet her so badly. I feel rewarded by having brought a life into the world, and I hope I can do my best. My best to raise a thoughtful, kind, intelligent daughter, who's comfortable in her own skin, and knows her parents love her NO. MATTER. WHAT.

I love you, Ruth.


Mom (Andrea)