Thank You, Laura

When I was pregnant with C I ran out of my Singulair one night. Total pregnancy brain moment, I never noticed I was close to being out, the prescription was supposed to be on auto-refill, I just spaced it. I realized I’d been taking the drug every day for years to control my very mild asthma and allergies and I also realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a problem with asthma. I decided I the prescription was totally needless. It was good I ran out because it made me come to my senses and gave me an opportunity to stop taking a drug every day.

Two nights later I woke up at about 2am gasping for breath. I frantically searched the house for my almost empty and definitely expired albuterol inhaler desperate for some relief. Remember, I was pregnant at the time and completely freaked that I was depriving the baby of oxygen. It didn’t even occur to me what was going on until the next day. Seriously, pregnancy brain is a thing. So yeah, it was the Singulair, stupid. I immediately got it refilled. Within a couple of days I was fine.

That little story is the exact reason a lot of people go off their psych meds. I’m fine! I’ve been fine for years! I don’t need this shit! It’s how I felt in 2006. Talk therapy has always been effective for me. I’d become a functioning human being again. I wanted off the drugs. At that point I was only on Zoloft, taking 200 mg a day down from my all time high of 250 mg. The thing with SSRIs is you can’t just stop one day. The withdrawal is brutal. Getting off the drugs took months.

Getting on the drugs takes months, too. You start with a tiny bit. See how you tolerate it. Increase it. Wait. Increase again. Increase again. And sometimes the drugs are misses-you get way more anxious. You need to stop taking it. You try another one that also may actually make your mental illness worse before it gets better. It’s all a guessing game. Unfortunately the game didn’t go in my favor the first few times I tried meds. In college I gave up altogether. A few years later I stuck with it until finally we figured out I could tolerate 200 mg Zoloft and I was on it for a long time. I also got fat and completely and totally lost my sex drive. The side effects of a larger dose are real and they can have a pretty big impact on one’s daily life.

I know the Zoloft helped (after the Wellbutrin, Paxil, Luvox, Abilify, and others I can’t even remember all failed spectacularly) despite the side effects. Getting there was tremendously painful. I have a very bad history with psychotropic drugs.

Last night, about an hour after I took my first dose of buspirone I started to feel a bit dizzy and lightheaded. I know that can be one of the side effects. I know that the dose I took is so small it is possible that I won’t be able to feel side effects for days. The dosage for this drug is split up to either twice or three times a day. About an hour after taking it this morning I started to feel a bit dizzy and lightheaded again.

Is it the drug? Is it me? Am I unable to tolerate it? Is this a mistake? Will it be ok if I just give it a chance? Three times a day. Timed so it isn’t near when I breastfeed. But what if C wants to nurse early? My mind will race with these questions three times a day plus all the other times I happen to remember I’m embarking on a big experiment that can go spectacularly wrong. Only this time I’m in charge of the safety of two other humans while I roll the dice.

I’m not supposed to think about the drug at first. My therapist told me I probably won’t feel anything for weeks. “Just put it out of your mind” she said. Um, I have an anticipatory anxiety disorder. Worrying things until they are bloody and raw is my specialty. It’s why we are in the drug place to begin with. How can I possibly not think about it a million times a day? How do I know if I’m feeling the drug or feeling the anxiety? How do I know if it’s working? How do I shut the anxiety up so the pill has a chance?

Last night a former colleague and friend commented on yesterday’s post over on facebook. “Anxiety=dementor…pill=patronus…use your patronus to save the lovely Karen from the dementor. xoxo”

It is one of my favorite comments ever. Thank you L, for speaking my language. You got through to me. And I’m going to give it a shot. Maybe I can get the dementor to shut up a bit, maybe I can give my patronus a chance to work. I always imagined my patronus would be a super nervous squirrel or mouse. But I guess a lozenge shaped pill can work just as well.

Expecto Patronum Motherfucker! 

T’s hair is crazy long when it’s wet. 

I’m not sure what this game is. I’m not sure I’m ok with it. But they are actually playing with each other these days which is pretty damn cool.


Prescription In Hand…

Sometimes people aren’t ready to face needing psychotropic meds because they feel like their mental illness is an integral part of who they are. They fear that they wouldn’t be themselves if they got better. Sometimes people aren’t ready to face needing the drugs because they can’t admit there is something that needs fixing. I’ve never been the first kind of person. Once acknowledged my illness felt like a cancer. It grows on who I am, suffocating the good parts of myself. I’ve been the second kind of person. When things were rock bottom, in the middle of my breakdown, I couldn’t admit I had a problem. It’s one of the most awful things about mental illness. Those who really need help often can’t admit it.

I know I need to be on a daily medication. Honestly, there has been a significant easing of the anxiety in the last few weeks. I haven’t felt as desperate or frightened. But it is still a problem. It’s been a problem for quite a while now. I know I need to be on a daily medication.

While I was waiting for my therapist to photocopy the prescription for buspirone today I said this day was a long time coming. She agreed. “You finally wore me down.” I joked. She laughed, although it clearly made her uncomfortable. Making people uncomfortable is my specialty.

She has been bringing up daily drugs for several years now. Breastfeeding, the pregnancy I lost, and C’s pregnancy have all been convenient excuses to avoid the drugs. But now C is 17 months old. I’m nursing less frequently. My excuses have dried up. My anxiety isn’t getting more manageable. I know I need to be on a daily medication.

But I don’t want to.

When I take my first dose tonight I will feel like a complete and total failure. I wanted to beat the anxiety. I wanted to fight that stupid bitch on my own, pound her nasty face into the pavement, I wanted to fucking kill her. By myself. With no outside help. I wanted to win. I wanted to kill her and move on with my life and never worry about anxiety again. I wanted to be strong and powerful and successful for once.

Mental illness stole my 20s. I feel like a loser who hasn’t ever had a real career. Who is 36 and doesn’t have a direction in life. Who was given and given and given every advantage in this world and squandered it all. The only thing I haven’t fucked up yet is my relationship with Z. I look at him and my peers and I’m jealous. They have laundry lists of accomplishments  they have established careers. What have I done with my life?

When I look back on what a waste my adulthood has been I am so ashamed. What can I do to salvage it? I could beat the mental illness on my own. That is why I don’t want to start taking the drugs that my therapist thinks I’ll be on for the rest of my life. Because the anxiety wins yet another round. I’ll be a slave to a pill in order to control her. And I fucking hate it.

I know I need to be on a daily medication. I will do the right thing. I will avail myself of help in order to get better for my boys. But it is a fucking bitter pill to swallow.

My handsome little man.
You ready for some awesome news? It’s not going to sound awesome at first. Little man woke up with a fever of 102. But the doc was able to see him first thing and he doesn’t have an ear infection, which is terrific. Even more terrific is the fact that he weighs 20lbs 12 oz. In less than a month he has put on 1lb 12 oz. He’s back to being in the 5% for weight.  I told his doc we were putting in a feeding tube at bedtime which made her laugh. If you told me two months ago that I’d be cheering if he was in the 5% I’d have rolled my eyes. But there you have it. I’m thrilled that he’s in a place where only 95% of his peers are bigger than him. His doc could tell how happy I was. “You should go home and have cake!” she said to me, “Seriously, give him some cake.”
And yes, I’m having a pretty elaborate pity party for myself right now. But we manage to have fun around here despite all that. The picture above captures T’s very favorite moment of the entire day. I don’t know what possessed Z to start wrapping T in a blanket and wilding spinning him around. And I must admit, I’m really not crazy about it. But T adores it. Begs for it. Kids are weird. 

Trash Night

After dinner we let the boys sit in front of the TV while we gathered the trash and recycling. We were continuing a conversation from earlier. Me, “You know what? I wouldn’t mind going to rehab.” Z, “Huh. No kids for 2 weeks or so.” Me, “All the sleep you want. And lots of therapy.” Z, “And art projects! And probably TV and internet!” Me, “Actually, rehab sounds awesome!”

I know, I know, rehab is serious business. Addiction is nothing to laugh at-hell I swore I wasn’t addicted to smoking for years until I tried to quite. I was quitting for about four more years. Addiction sucks ass. But as I’ve mentioned we are exhausted. To the point where rehab sounds pretty swell. I mean, I hear they make all your meals in there as well.

While we were working away I realized I couldn’t find my phone. Thought I left it out in the car. Z offered to call it from his before I put on my boots and stomped out to the driveway. I heard it ringing somewhere in the kitchen. I stepped towards the sound and Z grabbed me in a bear hug from behind and wouldn’t let me go. I laughed and thrashed around and yelled and he only released me when it stopped ringing.

I looked for it, couldn’t find it, and asked him to call it again. He did and then lunged for me and dragged me out of the kitchen and fell onto the sofa with me on top of him. I was laughing so hard I was crying as I yelled at him to cut it out.

He agreed to stop. Called again, and goddammit he did it again. Grabbed me and wouldn’t let go until the ringing stopped. I was weak from the giggles. Had the sense not to ask him again and finally found it on my own. The asshole had spotted it and knew where it was the whole time.

Would you believe it was the most fun I had all day? I couldn’t believe he could manhandle me like that. I outweigh him by at least 10lbs. Nothing makes you feel like a beautiful and delicate flower like outweighing your spouse. For every single fucking day of the almost 15 years you’ve been together. Including day one when you were barely 120lbs. Yup, he was about 115 back then. It’s my own fault for loving the skinny boys…

My baby is now a boy. 

These boys got a nap yesterday. 

The Weekend Can Suck It

You want to hear a secret? I sort of hate the weekend. That sounds really shitty and ungrateful, I know. Let me backup a bit.

The fall that C joined our family was astonishingly manageable. When dude was a few weeks old he started sleeping through the night. At first we thought something was wrong because babies are not supposed to sleep through the night. Based on our previous experience we thought babies actually weren’t able to sleep at all. But C loved to sleep. He loved to sleep when we loved to sleep. On top of that he was incredibly chill during the day. T was two that fall and needed a lot of attention. C was happy to watch T from the comfort of his bouncy seat. He was relaxed about hopping in the car to take T to school. He loved cuddling with me in his Ergo. He was so easy we couldn’t believe he was real. He was so easy we immediately thought we wanted to have a third. Z and I loved being a family of four, having another kid made us love the first one so much more, made us love each other more as well. If more kids meant more love we thought we’d be crazy not to have another.

A year ago things started to change a bit. C stopped sleeping through the night, he started needing more attention during the day. Well, that was perfectly fine. Things were still pretty manageable. And he’d been so easy during the fall he totally deserved to have a little bit of a rough time. I remember talking to one of my very smartest of smart friends, one of my favorite people of all time, during that period. Her youngest is in between my boys, her eldest is a year older than T. And she was struggling big time. She had nothing left, at that point she was home with the kids and they were unrelenting in their constant and simultaneous need. She said the first year with two was so much easier than the second year.

It scared me, but I was still firmly in the comfortable first year bubble. And she wasn’t telling me to scare me. She needed to talk, I am her friend. But she has told me so many true things since she has become a mom that I listened. I absorbed the knowledge that year two was going to be harder. Well, it’s nice that I knew so I wouldn’t think I was going bat shit insane when it happened, but knowing something is gong to be tough doesn’t necessarily prepare you for how tough things are going to be. I’m in it now. And it fucking sucks. It is unrelenting. They fucking need us all the time. They can’t entertain themselves well on their own, and if they are entertaining themselves we need to worry about them maiming each other. My sister, who has two boys nearly the same age, explained it like this: the boys play beautifully side by side for an indeterminate amount of time, then out of the blue they attack each other like feral dogs. You never know when it’s coming.

So they are exhausting during the day and now C wakes anywhere between 2 and 5 times a night. I know, I know this is as temporary as the lovely fall after C was born. I know we probably have another year, maybe two of the extremely physically grueling part of parenting. I know when they are able to occupy themselves safely and when we have more time to ourselves that the demands will be no less difficult, just different. Z and I also know that there is no way in fucking hell we are having another. We are tapped out.

But knowing that stuff doesn’t matter much when I am at the end of my rope. I look forward to the weekend all week long. I look forward to spending time with Z and to getting a break. Um, there is little time with Z, certainly no time with just the two of us. We are juggling the boys, juggling housework and homework for me. We are exhausted and frustrated and short with each other. Don’t get me wrong, he takes the boys to help me. Yesterday morning he let me sleep in. I woke up on my own at 8:15 and it was amazing. But the shitty part is a couple extra hours of sleep does not restore me. And I feel terrible about it. Z tries to do nice things to make my life better and it’s not enough? I’m not grateful? What kind of asshole am I? The reality is my job is the boys and on the weekend my job doesn’t go away. And if I did have a job outside the home? Z loves his job. Like actually wants to go to work. But he is spent by the time Friday rolls around. He needs a break as well. If he goes and gets a couple of drinks with some friends on a Saturday night after the boys go down he still needs to be up at 6am, hungover or not. Forget up at 6am, he needs to deal with T being up at 4am while I’m dealing with C.

So on FB I read about friends who doen’t have kids, or who have older kids doing awesome stuff on the weekends. And I love facebook, really I do, but for once I am jealous as hell. I might be most jealous of the people who do absolutely nothing during a weekend day. Who just hang out and nap and only have to worry about themselves. So during the week I get overwhelmed and frustrated and I need a fucking break. To get through I tell myself, just make it till the weekend. Everything will be better during the weekend. I lie to myself every week. And even though I really know what is going to happen I am surprised and frustrated every damn weekend.

Are the people who don’t have kids asking why the fuck would they ever do it? Remember the part about the kids increasing your capacity to love everyone in your life more? The love makes it all worth it. I know. Doesn’t make any sense to me, either. But it is true.

My little man was trying to keep warm this chilly morning. Thankfully the heating register is bigger than he is. 

Rough morning all around. 

A little unfiltered honestly uncomfortable action. This is what Sunday morning looks like. Unbathed. Hair full of coconut oil from last night. Forehead wrinkles that are getting bigger every week. Tired as fuck. Also, my kid just threw cheese at me.

Gun Play

This morning after my shower I found my three guys hanging out in Z and my bedroom while Z ironed his shirts (What? Did you think I iron them? I don’t iron my own clothing. Why the fuck would I iron his?). A couple of years ago Z gave me a 12″ vintage Boba Fett toy for my birthday. Mine isn’t in perfect condition and it better not have cost anywhere near $400. And yes, the gift was like me getting him a massage gift certificate…for myself. We talked about it.

So, T had my Boba Fett in his hands and he was playing with the gun the action figure came with and asking me all sorts of questions about it. T “Mom, what is this part?” Me, “Um, I think it’s the handle.” T, “No. THIS is the handle. What is this part?” Me, “I don’t know. I don’t really want to know.  I don’t like guns, T. I don’t want to touch them or talk about them or be near them. Guns hurt people.” T, “Well, I like guns.” Me, “Ok, that makes me pretty sad. Guns hurt good people.” T, “No they don’t, Mom! Guns just kill bad guys.” Me, “Oh T. That just isn’t true. Guns kill good people all the time. They are very dangerous.” T, “But Mom! Luke and Leia use guns! They are good!”

Oh boy. Luke and Leia do use guns. And they are good. Z and I are not hunters, and I don’t believe we ever will be. We don’t shoot recreationally. In all honesty, I’ve never touched a real firearm in my life. And I don’t want to. Guns scare the hell out of me. And that is my prerogative  just like it is someone else’s prerogative to be a gun enthusiast. Free country and all that jazz. But Z and I made a decision to introduce a movie with adult themes to our kid. Star Wars has been on in the background since he was an infant. It’s too familiar to be scary, but now that he is older we need to deal with the repercussions of him being exposed to guns. A dear friend of mine called Star Wars our religion. She is an observant Jew and is raising her kids in the faith and compared their learning about the bloodier aspects of religious history to our kids watching A New Hope. It was incredibly generous of her. But the bottom line is Luke and Leia shoot guns. And policemen have guns. And soldiers have guns. And he is going to be hearing about guns for the rest of his life. He is too little to understand the nuance of gun use. He thinks they can only hurt bad people like storm troopers. It’s important for him to know that people with guns can protect other people. But it’s also important that he learns people use guns to hurt others.

I know his fascination is developmentally appropriate. We talked to his preschool teacher about it and she agreed it is normal. It’s a hard topic, but we have the responsibility to address it as his parents. We do not want to be around guns, but after he grows up and is able to be responsible if he wants to hunt or join the rifle team in high school (is that still a thing?) we will let him make his own decisions. We need to explain to him that guns are dangerous and that he is not allowed to ever touch one while he is a child. We also need to explain to him that different people have different attitudes about guns. A lot of people incorporate guns into their life responsibly. A lot of people are irresponsible with guns and the consequences are horrifying.

I think I can handle the hard stuff when it comes to teaching our kids about guns, but here is where I’m worried. I keep reading crazy articles about kindergartners being suspended for pretending to shoot an imaginary gun. This behavior is developmentally normal in kids. Should it be corrected? Hell, yes. It’s cool to let a kid know they are behaving in a way that is not going to be accepted. But draconian disciplinary measures that will be on their record for the rest of time? What the fuck? They are five or six. They can’t understand what they are doing. Isn’t it our job to explain it to them?

I don’t have the answers. I’m still not sure what to say to T. Maybe I said the wrong thing this morning. Maybe we royally fucked up by showing him Star Wars. But I’ll keep on trying to figure it out. I just hope our local school is also figuring it out and can handle little kids playing like little kids. I hope they have a system in place that helps them learn to be better people, not that harshly punishes them for behavior they can’t understand.

My fun little man and his Daddy are making a fish tank filled with aquatic life this fine afternoon.  
Last night the “fish tank” was a robot head for my little guy. 

My big guy and I are just trying to figure out how to do right by our boys. 

Hey Smart Friends, Need a Little More Help Over Here

Friends. Smart, smart friends. I’m bugging you again because I need help. Clearly I can’t to this parenting thing without a ton of backup. So can we talk about pacifiers?

T wasn’t a pacifier guy. From day one he showed little interest. When C was an infant he didn’t use them either. Then one day last spring he was fussy while our lovely babysitter was over. She found a pacifier somewhere in the living room-it came home from the hospital with us when T was born. I know, gross. I should have thrown it out, you know, several years ago. But the damn thing shut C up.

I know people have strong feelings about the use of pacifiers. I am not one of those people. T didn’t like them, so I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about them. C was very late to using them, they provided a lot of comfort for him so I really didn’t give a shit. An added bonus was when he went through that stick-every-fucking-thing-you-touch-in-your-mouth phase the pacifier blocked him. It was hilarious to watch and he didn’t get dirt and grass and stuff he could choke on in his mouth.

A while ago our pediatrician told us she was totally cool with pacifiers, but she warned us that kids start to really get addicted to them at 18 months and the habit becomes difficult to break. He is 18 months at the end of February. We decided we’d “wean” him from the pacifier when we got back from our trip down south. But when we got home he was still a sick little boy. Also, you know, breaking him of the habit is really hard. I think the addiction boat sailed a little early with our guy.

He has the pacifier in and out of his mouth all day. But at night he needs it to sleep. And when it falls out he freaks and cries. And he really won’t go back to sleep unless I nurse him. There have been nights where I’ve nursed him 5 times, although the average is 2. He is going on 17 months old. It’s fucking ridiculous. And not to be completely selfish, ok who am I kidding, I’m always completely selfish. So yes, to be completely selfish, I fucking want to sleep through the night. I’m tired. C’s tired. Z’s tired. T is fine, totally well rested. Z and I resent the shit out of him.

So what do I do? How to we get him off the pacifier? Do we just pull the bandaid off? Do we take it away during the day and let him have it at night for a while? Do we put him down without it and give it to him when he wakes? Should we just give him to gypsies? What did you do with your pacifier addicted child? Did you send him/her to rehab? Was it expensive? Did the quite in your house while s/he was gone heal you and make you into a functioning human again? Can we send both of them to rehab? Please? HELP ME!

Yes, he also climbs inside the cabinets. I think that is a separate post.

Daddy and C doing a little early morning facebooking. Oh, guess what? He’s walking almost all of the time now. Guess I just should have written about it months ago….

And and old one of this guy. He is going to be serious trouble when he gets older. I just hope he doesn’t figure out how damn good looking he is. 

Before 9 This Morning:

T’s old training potty is still in his room because I’m lazy. He was upstairs playing while I was in the kitchen when he decided to pull it off the shelf and take a big shit in it. Drives me nuts when he does this every month or so. Because it is gross to clean up. And yet I keep forgetting to remove it. Of course the shit turned into diarrhea half way through. While I was dealing with that the little guy took advantage of the open bathroom door and the fact that my hands were full and pushed the lid to the toilet up and stuck his arm inside. I found him that way when I hustled back to the bathroom with a bowl full of shit in my hand. We have a “if it’s yellow let it mellow” policy in our upstairs bathroom and the toilet hadn’t been flushed in quite a while. I used my defcon 6 yell in order to try and scare him away. He just looked at me and kept fishing. We got all the piss and shit and dirty kids cleaned up and went downstairs. A few minutes later the little guy took a crap. At first I thought it was the big guy. Me, “Are you farting some more? Is your stomach ok?” I mean the kid did just have diarrhea. T, “Um…..I don’t think so.” I figured out it was C, took him to the changing table and he managed to thrust his hand into the shit and wipe it on the sock he was holding.

People, poop cracks me up, but this is quite enough mess for one day. I am done, DONE. If these kids want to messily create and play in bodily fluids someone else can clean it up. Man, I wish a poop fairy lived in our house.

This is what happens when you deny C popcorn. Forget the multiple hospitalizations  my cruelty was clearly the worst thing that had ever happened in his life. Do you see the tears?
T and Daddy made an awesome monster mask.
Trying to figure out chopsticks the last time I made stir fry.