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It would appear that we are once again back to our normal – still exhausting, still often treading water, but able to breathe and even enjoy the water occasionally. Thank 7lb 5 oz baby Jesus!

  • Everyone is now (mostly) healthy! HFM has been vanquished! I have stopped hacking! L did manage to tweak her back on Wednesday but has been very slowly (with the help of acupuncture and muscle relaxers) been getting function back. I really really really hope that we stay relatively sickness free or, at the very least, manage to do some better turn taking with any future sickness.
  • My job got reclassified!!! I didn’t get word until exactly 4 weeks after the panel, and only after a little drama (the HR guy told me I’d hear no later than last Tuesday, then Tuesday came and went and when I e-mailed him he was on fucking vacation!! After a polite but firm e-mail and call to the department admin, someone sent it!) It’s a &5 an hour raise plus that same difference in back pay from Dec 1 to whenever it becomes official on payroll, which will be a solid chunk of money! Also, the resentment about being paid the same as folks with far less experience and being paid less than my colleague who is a total waste of space, seemed to practically dissipate as soon as I got the letter.
  • Angus is crawling. It’s still a weird one foot forward one foot back crawl, but he’s fast with it. We continue to try and get him to tuck the other leg but we can’t follow him around all the time, so when we aren’t there, he reverts back to his sit-crawl. He seems much happier now that he’s able to get around.
  • We celebrated good health and sunshine (though, gonna be real, it’s over 80 degrees here today and is predicted to stay that way for most of the week and I am not happy about it) by going strawberry picking this weekend. We picked SO MANY berries and ate a lot in the field too. We brought them home and I made 12 jars of strawberry jam and the most amazing strawberry ice cream, and of course we have tons left over as well. It was a very nice reminder of life beyond the quarantine house. (PS – doesn’t my wife look like a serious babe in that first picture? Such a stunner)

     

  • We did get out a little the week prior to visit Olympia pride. We arrived late thanks to a baby nap and discovered once we’d parked that Angus had a giant blowout and we’d brought 0 additional clothes for him, so we ended up having to buy a very expensive organic hand brushed harvested by angels cotton romper for him in downtown Oly. So we missed a lot of the parade, but it was still fun and we got these great pictures in front of a mural.
  • Also OMG Angus is 10 months old!! WUT?
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The last few weeks have been only slightly short of miserable. Like, we are IN IT, y’all.

The biggest contributing factor is that EVERYONE has been sick, with each of us at different places on the sickness to wellness spectrum at different points in time, but none of us actually achieving actual non-sick status for the last 3+ weeks. It started with Ansel crawling into our bed with a hacking cough and progressed into colds all around, bronchitis for L and I that is still working it’s way out, a stomach virus complete with awful cramps for the adults in the house, and now Hand Foot and Mouth disease – first in Angus and now in Ansel. L started getting a super sore throat yesterday and woke up this morning with spots so we’re up to 3/4 HFM Chez Gayby. I am scheduled to teach in sex ed classes every day for the next two weeks – this is NOT a time that I can take off, so I’ll take whatever magic you got that I don’t succumb too.

With illness comes clingy babies and grumpy toddlers and even more disrupted sleep than usual. It’s really not surprising that we haven’t been able to recover, since to do so would mean getting enough rest and being able to take care of ourselves or each other. But two sick kids means that idea is a pipe dream at best. And by the time the day is over, we are exhausted from caring for sick kids and working and not feeling well ourselves, so the usual house stuff isn’t really happening either.

It just feels like we are being kicked when we’re down, like we can’t quite escape the constant onslaught of sickness. Life with two kids feels relentless most times, but recently it’s felt more like treading water with more than the occasional bout of not quite being above the surface. Super contagious sickness means that we don’t even have the usual sources of support since those are the preschool parents who, understandably, want to keep their distance. This is one of those times when, despite the drama and exasperation my mom often causes me, I wish I lived closer to family. L said yesterday we’ve just got one nostril above the water, and that feels about right.

The sleep consultant won’t work with us until she feels like Gus’ ‘underlying issues’ are managed, which mostly means (I think) that the iron/anemia issue is resolved. We’ve been giving him liquid ferrous sulfate since the last test showed low iron and when it was rechecked last week, it had only increased a very small amount. Our pediatrician hasn’t returned our calls about what to do next (in fact, I’m on hold for them as I write this, and I’m annoyed about it. ) She also continues to be kind of weird about the dentist not clipping his tongue tie, only the lip tie. But I’m gonna be real that I trust the pediatric dentist on this more than the sleep consultant who’s only seen pictures and who doesn’t evaluate functionality anyway. The main point of this all is that we continue to get very, very little sleep. When Gus first came down with the HFM, he wouldn’t let us put him down to sleep at night like, at all. We ended up taking shifts holding him so we each could get a chunk of sleep, but four hours isn’t actually sustainable. But, for now we’re in a holding pattern.

L did not move forward with the charter school for a job, but she did get accepted into the emerging artist program! It’s a really incredible opportunity for her to get a bunch of training on things like fundraising to support her art, have time and resources to devote to developing a new solo show, and a reputable venue to promote and host the solo show. It’s not a paid gig, which is a bummer, but the pay off in exposure and skills will be well worth the time and energy. She continues to apply for stuff as it comes up, and we continue to really hope that the perfect job is coming, because the perfect job is not staying home with our (adorable, perfect, amazing) children.

Perhaps you recall my reclassification process which was denied in January . After talking to my union rep and my boss, I decided to appeal the decision. This time, armed with some additional information about how the process works and what I needed to make clear, I submitted an extensive document outlining my additional work and why it was more in line with the higher classification. The few weeks between the decision and deciding to submit the appeal were a bit tumultuous. I ended up talking to my bosses boss (who was my boss until about a year ago) didn’t support my reclassification, primarily because ‘everyone else who’s been reclassified has been here many years’ and so she felt it was ‘premature.’ Of course, that actually ought to have nothing to do with how my job is classified, but her opinion carries weight and may have been a primary factor in their decision. I smiled and nodded and thought mean names in my head. My union rep advised me to keep quiet and she did some investigation into potential next steps if the appeal doesn’t work. She heard from the division head that he would be open to creating a path to the new classification for me should the appeal not go through.

I had my reconsideration panel three weeks ago (can we all just admit than anything job related + panel = fucking terrifying?) I brought both the document I’d initially submitted as well as a chart comparing my current job classification duties as compared to the new duties as compared to the work I do. Only my (very very supportive) boss was there, and she had a document outlining my work and her support for the panel as well. Once again, it was a shockingly brief meeting with very few questions – which can either feel good (my work was clear!) or shitty (they have already decided!) but ultimately I ended up feeling good about it. They told me I’d hear in 2-4 weeks but “likely closer to two, as we like to close these as soon as possible and yours has been open for quite some time.”

So, basically since last Wednesday (the two week mark) I’ve been anxiously checking my work e-mail hoping to see a decision. I still haven’t heard and while I’m still within the window they gave me, the longer I have to wait, the greater the anxiety. Because our brains are hardwired to look for the worst possible evidence in the face of the unknown. Or, at least, mine is. I decided to send a very polite e-mail inquiring about things, even though we haven’t reached the deadline. I hope that wasn’t a bad idea – not that it could impact the decision directly (hello, union rules!) but just because I don’t like to annoy people. Still, my boss is out of town and I have this idea that the decision is waiting in her inbox and that makes me die a little inside too.

Anyway, if it works out, it’ll will be both a pretty solid pay increase (at least 5%, I believe) plus back pay from the time I submitted for the reclass (November.) It also gives me some job protection in the weird system we have (ask if you care but it’s really too complicated to get into) and most importantly its recognition for the work I’ve been doing for almost two fucking years. 

In some brief kid updates:

  • Ansel has started going to sleep on the floor in front of his door. This is weird but I guess ok? Not sure why he does it and for a while I was going in and transferring him to bed, but this usually involved the door hitting him on the head and that seemed counterproductive. This has coincided with him coming into our bed to sleep at around 3am as well. Although we used to be kind of strict about when he could come in, we’ve gotten lax. Now that he doesn’t demand to nurse when he climbs in (he still nurses a tiny bit when we actually wake up in the morning, just not from the moment he’s in our bed) he’s mostly just sweet and snuggly. And honestly, we are ok with whatever sleep we are getting, we’ve gotten less picky about what it looks like.
  • Angus is thisclose to crawling. He’s actually doing a kind of weird one leg back crawl, where he’s constantly poised to sit back on his butt, but it’s definitely slower and more awkward than a regular crawl. He’s waaaay more interested in pulling himself to stand. L feels very strongly about crawling being an important thing for reading, eyesight, etc and honestly I trust her knowledge on this. But convincing him might be a different story.

  • Ansel has started telling jokes!
  • Ansel was evaluated for his eating stuff (gagging, vomiting, extremely limited variety of food) – which I realize I don’t think I’ve talked about much here. It took us a while to get a referral because his weight is good, which apparently is what the pediatricians of the world go on. But the daily gagging and spitting, the frequent vomiting, and the fact that he won’t try anything new – even ‘kid food’ – was concerning to us. They determined he does need some feeding therapy, and so he starts that in a few weeks. The assessment included doing a little bit of work and he ended up eating ‘apple sticks’ (just apple cut into long thin pieces) and has since eaten apples pretty frequently, which wasn’t happening before, so I have high hopes!

Send some light. We could use it.

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First of course . . .

Angus is NINE MONTHS OLD! (weird. Wasn’t Ansel just born?) At his 9 month appointment, he weighed in at 17lbs 9oz, putting him in the 10th percentile. Not too shabby, considering he was only in the 2nd at his 6 month appointment, and before that he wasn’t even on the regular charts. He’s in the 50th percentile for height too, confirming that he is kind of a long, skinny baby and explaining why the 6-9 month clothes fit perfectly length wise but are still pretty roomy around the middle.

As for sleep . . .it’s been hit or miss, though I think the overall trend has improved. He had a night with an 8 hour stretch (for him, not for us) which felt magical but . . .mostly he’s been in the 3ish hour mark, which is still better than it could be. He’s been waking for the day very early though, which is its own kind of stress. A week or so ago, we decided that because of this, I’d take on the night wake ups (usually 2 from when we go to bed at 10:30-11 until around 3-4 am, and then Laurie would get up with him. Since Ansel still crawls in bed to nurse and cuddle in the morning and is a beast when he has to get up early, this allows me to ‘sleep in’ (it’s all relative) with him while L gets up around 5am with Angus, and we both get at least one semi-solid chunk of sleep. We haven’t set up our follow up or any additional work with the sleep consultant yet since things seem to be improving and also she requires us to keep a log of 48 hours with an inordinate amount of detail and we just cannot seem to make that happen.

Ansel has recently seemed to emerge from the ‘parallel play’ phase and is now VERY interested in playing with others. This has been very sweet, but has also come with some rough edges (probably more for us than him, if I’m being honest.) He seems to have taken a special shine to one of the kids in his class, R. I’m always unsure if this is simply circumstantial – we went to R’s birthday party, and he had a couple of playdates with her recently – or if he really does just like her better, you know? In any case, last week at school R was holding hands with J (they do seem to have become a friendship couple, spending most of their time together at school – and this may be a part of the context too, that Ansel sees that and wants a buddy in a similar capacity) and Ansel approached them and asked to hold her other hand and she very forcefully pulled it away and told him no. He got really upset and ran off and didn’t want to talk about it. Later that day, R & J told him he couldn’t play with them and he left sad and tearful. The teacher intervened the second time since, for her, while it’s fine to not hold hands with someone (we all get to choose the physical contact we are ok with), and it’s ok to play alone and tell people you are playing alone, you can’t tell one person they can’t play if you are playing with someone else or a group (this makes sense to me for preschool.) L was a working parent that day, so she witnessed all of this. And, another mom who we’ve become friends with, told us it’s happened before. Both L and I felt totally heartbroken about the situation, though that same night Ansel was talking about his friend R like nothing had happened, so clearly we are holding on to it in a different way.

It got me thinking about how the challenges of parenting change over time. It segues from keeping them healthy and alive while they are virtually helpless to helping them weather the heartbreaks and complexities of being a human in relationship with other humans. It’s a difficult task, to teach a small person how to be a friend, help them understand that sometimes – no matter what you do – someone doesn’t want to be your friend, and hope they both keep their wonderful unique qualities and also understand that not everyone will like them for it. I, of course, can’t understand why someone wouldn’t adore Ansel like I do. But, I know not everyone will and he’ll get his tender heart hurt. This is just the first time of many.

On a happier note, though, with the warming weather and longer days, I’ve started taking Ansel to the school down the street, which has a beautiful playground accessible to the community after school hours. There are often other kids there, and he has played with a few of them. On a few occasions, older kids (in the 6-9 range) have kind of taken him in, teaching him to play games or indulging him in his toddler versions. He talks about ‘his friends’ while we walk to the ‘big park’ and is disappointed when no one is there. Last night, he was very clear and direct that he didn’t want a hug from one of the older girls but that he did want to high-5 her, and that felt really lovely too. Lots of lessons about how to engage other people – the hard and the good, they always come together, right?

Speaking of hard lessons . . .last Thursday on my way home from work, I swerved to miss something in the road right as the road narrowed, and ended up skirting the guardrail. My car was drivable and not seriously mechanically or structurally damaged, and I was fine. But, there was definitely some pretty significant damage to the body, and the passenger side door wouldn’t open. I called the next day to file a claim with the insurance company and learned . . .we didn’t have collision coverage on the car? This seemed impossible to me since I would just never made that choice and we had full coverage on the other car. When I called my agent, she confirmed. And then I remembered that the employee at the agency who’d set us up when we purchased our house had also fucked up the homeowner’s policy, almost delaying the closing and costing us additional fees from the sellers. Now, apparently, he had also failed to give us collision coverage on the car (though there was other weird stuff on there) and because I’d done everything over the phone, there was no record that I’d ever asked for anything different. And, then, of course, I’d been dumb enough to not look at the policy closely before I signed it (I remember the day I did, too . . .I drove down to Tacoma from Seattle to do it and was frazzled and running late for work . . .an explanation but not an excuse.) So . . .we were on the hook for the full cost of whatever repairs needed to be made.

I’m lucky enough to be able to ask for a loan from my parents, since they both have the resources and are happy to share them with me. So, that’s what I did. We are getting second hand parts and the cost is actually less expensive than I anticipated it would be, but it still sucks. So, for now my car is in the shop and I’m in a rental, deeply grateful, a little bitter, and somewhat wiser. May my mistake encourage you to read everything you sign twice.

I also had the MRI on my ankle and a follow up with the doctor. The numbness in my foot is being caused by swelling in my ankle from general scar tissue and inflammation. He could do a tarsal tunnel release but doubts it would have much, if any, effect on the numbness because the issue is my ankle. This is just a symptom of more significant problems. My options for repairing the ankle are to fuse it, which he wouldn’t recommend since I already have arthritis in my sub talar joint and the fusion would exacerbate that, at which point the only option would be excrutiating pain in that joint or fusion of that joint, which would leave me with no functionality in my ankle at all – basically I’d be able to hobble but not much else. The other option is ankle replacement. It would restore function and eliminate pain . . .BUT . . .replacements don’t last a super long time. Right now, the technology is at about 10 years (significantly less than hip or knee replacements) and then you’d either need a new replacement or a fusion. And after the second replacement, you’d almost certainly need a fusion. But, with each subsequent surgery, you up the risk of infection or other complications and the worst case scenario of course, would be amputation. All of that is scary to think about.

For now, I’m going to learn to live with the numbness and the pain I experience, and hold off on anything until I feel like the pain is so bad I have to make a decision. Until then, I’ve sunk some money into two pairs of shoes – one athletic, the other dress – that are recommended for ankle arthritis and improve functionality of the joint. And I’m begrudgingly committed to wearing them. I have fucking huge, ugly feet and have always struggled to wear cute shoes, but now I’m really going to look frumpy. But, better frump than pain. This will be my mantra.

Finally, L had an interview with a charter school network last week. They said she should hear from the individual schools late this week or next to potentially schedule an in person interview. She’s also a semi-finalist for an Emerging Artists program that would allow her to get some intensive training and support for developing a one person show. She’s interested in exploring the intersections of being a non-normatively gendered pregnant person, how gender and parenting interact. I’m excited about both of these possibilities being fulfilling and engaging her great talent in a way that being a stay at home parent just hasn’t.

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The latest in the sleep (no sleep) saga:

  • Angus does indeed have both a lip and tongue tie. The pediatric dentist revised the lip tie on Tuesday but determined that the lip tie wasn’t impacting his nursing (‘he’s doing what he’s supposed to with it’) and because of his age, didn’t want to revise. Poor L had to be a party to the lasering of his little mouth. We haven’t noticed any difference yet really, though we are both hopeful it will, at the very least, help with nursing.
  • Angus also has low iron. He’s been prescribed ferrous sulfate and we bought this lucky iron fish to use for water and cooking so he can get more iron in his body. That will also probably take a few days to resolve.
  • We decided that we’ll also probably continue working with the sleep consultant, unless the iron magically solves all sleep related issues.

In other news . . .I screwed up and accidentally bought tickets to the demolition derby and not the monster truck show. I thought Ansel still might be into cars crashing but it started slow and really, what he’s into are monster trucks, so he was bummed. We ended up leaving pretty early at his request. Luckily, the show was at the Spring Fair, so we wandered around and saw animals and ate food and he got an inflatable princess hammer which he loves. So, it wasn’t a total loss.

You may remember this asshole  orthopedic doctor I saw for the tingling in my foot, who did, after a lot of sending messages, agree to a nerve conduction study that showed – not surprisingly – nerve damage and atrophy causing the tingling. When I went to follow up with him he kind of shrugged and said it was probably a neuropathy caused by something in my spine or even diabetes (side note: I am not diabetic. I am not pre-diabetic. I am fat, but my metabolic panels are consistently excellent. so fuck you, dude) and he couldn’t help. Then he told me to lose weight again and come back and see him when I wanted that ankle fusion.

So I scheduled an appointment with the only other ortho practice my insurance covers in Tacoma. I saw him this morning and it was so much better. He listened to me, for starters. He also said that the tingling was very likely caused by some kind of impingement on the nerve from swelling, scar tissue, a cyst or a bone spur. He’d need an MRI to be sure. He also told me my subtalar joint (the joint below the ankle proper that controls side to side motion) is also compromised, which actually makes a simple ankle fusion not indicated, at least not without a lot of consideration. Because when the ankle is fused, the subtalar joint usually degrades very quickly. So it’s a process of evaluating pros and cons and figuring out the best way forward. Depending on what the MRI shows on the tarsal tunnel, he may want to do a release, but we won’t talk about any of that until he has the scans. He didn’t mention my weight at all. Let me be a reminder to all of you that doctors aren’t gods and they work for us. So if they are dicks, go find one who isn’t.

Also, the sun was out for almost a week and it was glorious. Today its cloudy and grey and cool again (after getting close to 80 yesterday!) but I feel like I can really appreciate it now after a sunny stretch. The sunny spring and absurdly beautiful summers out here make the rain worth it and lez be honest, I prefer a cool day to sweating buckets from April to September always.

Finally: Ansel’s first school picture makes me feel a little misty eyed and also like #IMadeDat

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First, a few updates:

  • A pre-school mom friend recommended a sleep consultant to us and after hearing from others how helpful this has been, we decided to at least call for the free 15 minute consultation. The lady was *amazing* and gave us a few things to look into medically before we attempt anything behaviorally. Accordingly, we made an appointment to get his iron tested next week, since the way we described his restlessness (plus his prematurity + being breastfed) makes her think he is likely low on iron stores. (sidenote: it was a particularly shockingly uphill battle to get the pediatrician to ‘allow’ us to get this blood test prior to his 9 month appointment, which is weird because the appointment is only three weeks away which feels insignificant in terms of well child appointment time, though it is an impossibly long time when you’re not sleeping and this could be the solution. We also made an appointment with a pediatric dentist to have him assessed for a tongue and lip tie. I feel 85% sure he has a lip tie and the consultant, based on pictures of him with his mouth open, feels pretty confident he’s tongue tied as well. Given his poor latch and the struggles L has had nursing, I have long thought this might be the case. The ped agreed with the lip tie but kind of dismissed it needing to be revised because he was gaining weight. (sidenote: we aren’t exactly in love with our pediatrician.) So, there is hope. We bought the magic sleep suit and the first night it improved his sleep quite a bit, but since then it’s been hit or miss . . .
  • Ansel is definitely pee potty trained. He hasn’t had a pee accident in over a week, and he wakes up from naps and night dry about 75% of the time. Poop continues to elude us though he does seem to mostly poop in the pull up so . . .that’s better than scraping it out of underoos. Of course, he closest we’ve come to pooping in the potty ended with him dropping a deuce in the middle of the living room but . . .progress not perfection, right?

The sun has also come out – probably not to stay, yet, but it has been here for a few days and is predicted to stay a few more. When you don’t see the sun for a long time, when you finally do it’s like a drug. I’ve spent as much time as my cubicle dwelling life allows soaking up the vitamin D and doing outdoor things. I took Tuesday off (more partly cloudy than sunny, but whatever) and took Ansel to the zoo with some friends, and yesterday we sat in the yard blowing bubbles. It’s so magical here in the spring when it’s sunny – things so green and fresh and alive. Ansel said yesterday that the ‘sun hurts’ and wanted it to go away so . . .clearly he is a fully NW kid now. We told him we liked the sun to stay and that we’d get him some sunglasses!

Other than not sleeping, Angus is really quite amazing. He’s up to 16 lbs + (4X his birth weight), is sitting up confidently and beginning to do the reach that precedes crawling. His smile is amazing and so freely given. It’s a very genuine and kind smile – Ansel’s has always had a little more mischief behind it – and he loves sitting in L’s lap and beaming at me. He also adores his brother, and Ansel can make Gus belly laugh for long, lovely stretches. He babbles loudly and constantly, and is beginning to punctuate everything with those hard Ds and Bs. He eats with abandon and hasn’t met a food he doesn’t like. Still no teeth though he certainly seems to be showing some signs of their impending arrival. He is a really lovely baby, even in the midst of being more challenging in many ways, and I really can’t wait to see him begin to emerge as an independent being more fully.

Tonight, L and I celebrate 6 years since we had our “GLEE” (gay love extravaganza event)/wedding. It was actually last Saturday, but L got tickets to see Taylor Mac tonight, so we are getting dressed up, going to dinner, and seeing a show! Our friends M + T  are watching the babies for us (M is maybe Ansel’s most favorite person though, this morning when we told him they were coming to hang out with him he said his friend from school, Ruby, is his favorite person so . . .) and we get to go pretend to be human beings, despite our lack of sleep and general exhaustion. 6 years (8.5 since we started dating) both feels like a really long time and also like nothing at all. It’s about 4 times longer than my next longest relationship, but I also feel like I’m still getting to know who L is and how she works and I think I could keep doing that for a long while still. It’s nice to feel that way about my partner, even in the midst of things being pretty fucking hard.

Thanks to audio books from the library, the amazing Overdrive app, and my otherwise shitty commute, I’ve ‘read’ SO MANY BOOKS so far this year! I just finished two that I LOVED and thought I’d recommend The Hate U Give and Sing, Unburied, Sing both of which are definitely not ‘light’ or ‘fun’ per se, but also SO GOOD. Sing, Unburied, Sing was some of the most beautiful prose I’ve read (heard?) in a very, very long time. I just started Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and am pretty smitten with it so far, too. I’m embarassed to admit that, despite many recommendations over the years, this is my first experience with Neil Gaiman. If you love him, what else should I read? I have been feeling very sad that my reading has been so bad since becoming a parent and this is 100% the best solution for me, even if sometimes I think it’s not ‘the same’ (read: as noble) but, what the fuck ever, you know? It’s better than doing neither!

I hope to be back in a few weeks with reports of a well rested household, so continue to keep us in mind for those T&Ps!

PS- Taking Ansel to the Monster Truck Rally at the Spring Fair on Sunday and I’m so excited!!

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Here I am, another blogger in a sea of them writing about sleep.

Because, y’all, we are suffering here at Chez Gayby. Everything is a little bit harder because 3 out of 4 of us aren’t getting enough sleep regularly, and the fourth occasionally joins us when he’s feeling rowdy.

Last night, for example, I headed to bed around 10pm but got waylaid by laundry, and so ended up finally in bed a little after 11. Gus woke up at 12:45, which is when L had just finished pumping, so I took the bottle of milk into him. He’d gone to bed around 7pm but had to be rocked or nursed back to sleep 2-3 times (I can’t recall because, no sleep) before the 12:45 wake up. At 2am, Ansel came into our room and I had to redirect him back to his own bed, which involved digging the ball he’d brought with him out from under the covers, adjusting the turtle nightlight, and then singing to him. Gus woke up at 3am and L brought him to our room, where he fussed for a while before she took him back to his room and rocked with him (while he dozed in and out of sleep) until a little after 5am, at which point Ansel was up and playing on his own, and she tagged out and I got up with them both.

Y’all, I saw almost every hour on the clock last night, L did too. Last night was unusual because Ansel got up so early and had a middle of the night wake up, which only happens 1-2 times every couple of weeks. But Angus is up every 45 minutes-2 hours every.single.night.

I used to think Ansel was a ‘bad sleeper’ as a baby. He woke every 2-3 hours until I night weaned him at 14 months, after my surgery made it necessary. But when Ansel woke up, I’d go to his room or bring him to ours, nurse him, and he’d immediately settle and go back to sleep.

Angus is not so easily subdued. Sometimes a bottle or a boob will soothe him and he’ll drift back off. But just as often, it will take 15, 20, 30 minutes of rocking and shushing and patting to get him back to sleep. Even when L brings him to bed and co-sleeps with him, side lying nursing, he’ll often keep fussing and crying, unable to settle himself. It’s been like this for a while – months for sure – so it’s not some ‘sleep regression’ (isn’t there one at all the months anyway, supposedly?) He just doesn’t sleep well.

With Ansel, we used the Happy Sleeper method at 14 months, and it was incredibly effective. One night of a little crying, another of a little less, and then he would go down easily and sleep very well. Sure, he still has nights when he wakes up, but they aren’t frequent and he settles easily.

But L and I both agree that any sort of crying (controlled or extinction) won’t work for Gus. Even awake, if his needs aren’t met somewhat immediately, he loses his mind and cries and screams and gets himself so worked up he can hardly breathe and seems near vomiting. I don’t have a moral or ethical issue with crying sleep training, but I also have a gut instinct that it isn’t an effective strategy for this baby.

So . . .what do we do? I am reading the No Cry Sleep Solution and while I’m only halfway through the suggestions, there isn’t a lot so far that we aren’t already doing. Maybe I’ll stumble on a gem, still. And of course I’ll finish reading it because I appreciate that there is rarely a single silver bullet when it comes to baby sleep, and the long game is what we are after.

But the lack of sleep is making everything else in life really fucking hard. For L, there’s no break from kids, for both of us, exhaustion is making us feel crappy, anxious, depressed, and snippy. All of the other stuff that is hard but manageable become just unbearable when you are so so tired.

If he would settle when co-sleeping, I don’t think either of us would hesitate to make that the way of things. But even that isn’t effective. He just doesn’t seem to be able to settle. So, today L bought a Magic Merlin Sleep Suit. Angus still sleeps on his back, though he can roll over onto his belly easily while awake, he doesn’t seem interested in it while sleeping (I have tried it, though it is against safe sleep practice recommendations because I figured if he just experienced it, he might settle and then be able to do it himself. No dice.) And while I don’t know that it will be some magic cure-all, I think we are prepared to try just about anything within reason.

Of course I’ll take suggestions. We are going to talk to the pediatrician too, as it kind of seems outside the realm of typical baby sleep. We aren’t asking for 8, 10 or 12 hour stretched. Like, 3 would be great, 4 sounds divine, 5 would be enthralling. We just each need some semblance of a chunk of sleep. What I cannot handle hearing is that this is ‘just the way it is.’ I know babies don’t sleep like adults. But I also know I’m concerned for my health and sanity, and the health and sanity of my partner as well. I’m also concerned about our baby not getting the sleep he should, since he often takes next to no naps, or very very short ones if that. This isn’t sustainable and I am not willing to entertain the idea that this is going to be our life for the foreseeable future. Maybe it is, but I can’t handle that idea. People say baby sleep is only a problem if it isn’t working for you, and this is not working for us.

On the brighter side of things, Ansel is sort of potty trained. By which I mean, he’s peeing in a potty about 90% of the time, though he still is having accidents, especially if we don’t prompt. The sticker chart bribery plan seems to have worked and he earned his Minnie car, even though he’s still not 100% in the clear. The big hurdle is the pooping, which I think is going to take some different strategizing. He’s not an every day pooper, so it’s harder to gauge things. But, he does like to hide when he poos, and we recently put the little potty in his tent win hopes that it will encourage him. He also still occasionally pees on the potty while still wearing his underpants, which is mostly because he kind of can’t be troubled to pull his own pants down. So that’s also a task. But, we are calling this a partial win. And we need a win right now.

And there’s still a lot that’s just kind of hard . . .L’s job search isn’t going as well as we’d like, despite having some really promising leads; my job reclassification continues to be frustrating and resentment evoking; my foot is still numb and the doctor is still an asshole; things financially are ok but not great. All of those things are much harder because of the exhaustion. I’ve had some moments where I’ve wanted to go out for milk and not come back, where I longed again for a life that was more sleeping in and less hourly wake ups, more drinking and dancing and less scraping poop out of Minnie Mouse underpants. I know this isn’t uncommon, but I haven’t experienced it too much in my life as a parent and so it makes me feel uneasy. Of course I adore my children and there are still so many moments of beauty and joy that outshine the shit, usually. But the pace is relentless and sometimes it feels like the time I do get with them I’m so anxious about the state of the house or the general stresses of the day that I don’t always get to enjoy them. I’m trying to let go of stuff like laundry being folded or stuff being put away AND my anxiety goes way up when the house is visually so chaotic and so dealing with it is a way to cope.

Of course, it is also still fucking raining all the damned time and between that and kids and schedules, the lawn is like a jungle. Also, rain isn’t always the best for the mood, y’know.

But the sun will be here, definitely by July but maybe sooner. And Angus will eventually sleep (right? RIGHT!?!) and the waning moon will wax again. I know. I know. But things are pretty dark right now, and I could use a sliver of light.

OMG OMG I forgot, also, Angus is 8 months old and I really need to talk about him beyond just his sleep so I will. Just not today.

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I’ve been wanting to steal some time to update about Denver + Ansel fully embracing threenagerhood + Angus and his magic accomplishments but . . .you know, blah blah blah, busy. Also, I hate leaving a mopey blog post up because it feels like it just sort of sits and festers, even though I think I did an ok job redeeming it from too much wallowing.

Let’s start with this picture of my kids with the easter bunny where Ansel is smirking. Laurie says he looks just like me in this picture which I think means I must smirk more than I thought I did?

So, Denver . . .was also, on balance, hard.

A few things really upped the ante:

  • We decided to stay with our friends instead of my parents (for many reasons – both emotional/relational and because of my mom’s health.) This was a great idea in theory because it meant getting to spend down time with people we really love. In practice, though, it meant two fat girls + a baby in a double bed and a toddler on a twin air mattress on the floor in a very small room. Because the toddler also likes to cuddle, especially in the mornings but also when he’s anxious in a new place, this meant I was spending half my night on my side being as small as possible so I didn’t crush our youngest and the other half of the night with my hip digging into the floor while sharing an inflatable bed with my own personal barnacle. Also, one of our friends is going through some intense/heavy stuff with their family and probably both wanted us/didn’t want us there, so there was just this weird juju in the air, for lack of a better term.
  • On our second day there, I went out to pick up some items for Ansel’s b-day party and, while there, got a call from my dad that my mom was having one of her ‘fits’ again. His reason for calling was to have me come pick up the cake, balloons and gifts they had for Ansel’s party but hearing his tired, sad, scared, and resigned voice, I asked if he wanted me to come help him. He said he did, because he really didn’t want to call the ambulance again but couldn’t get her into the car himself. I trekked out to my parents’ house and found my mom in rough shape: not making sense, doing weird things with her body (seemed maybe not quite intentional?), belligerent – just generally not herself. After some time, we got her into the car. While she waited there, I raided her medicine cabinet and found a bunch of meds she was supposed to be off of, and, though my dad swore up and down he was doling out her painkillers and other medicines and he really didn’t think she was taking anything else, I made him go through each of them and tell me what she was on. The bottles that contained stuff she wasn’t supposed to be taking I packed into a bag and, later on, hid in the kitchen. (Listen, my dad is a recovering alcoholic and addict and while he’s definitely the more trustworthy parent right now, there’s no reason to tempt fate.) We took her to the hospital where they did an intake, and eventually kept her for a couple of nights. Still no real diagnosis, though everyone seems to think it has something to do with taking/not taking/getting off of pain medications. Obviously this is the readers digest version of events but I just can’t handle the details right now and also I’m not sure I want it all out on the internet, you know?

Since my mom being in the hospital and my dad being with her (plus my brother and his family in Moab) meant basically no one from my family (save my aunt, who was hosting) would be able to attend Ansel’s party, we moved Ansel’s party from my aunt’s house in the suburbs to the friends’ house where we were staying. The party was 100% a highlight of the weekend.

Because Ansel loves Minnie. I do not entirely understand his wide eyed enchantment, seeing Minnie as somewhat vapid myself, but he’s enthusiasm and adoration is infectious. Our friend dressed up and visited and he was enthralled the whole time. Hugging her, kissing her, gazing adoringly at her, asking her to open his presents with him . . .it was magical. See for yourself:

The next day, we baptized Angus at my old church (which really doesn’t feel like my church anymore because the people who attend have changed so much) and it was lovely and wonderful in so many ways. And, I was deeply sad that my parents weren’t there. Angus wore my grandfather’s baptismal gown, which was deeply meaningful to me, but it was hard not to feel a bit heartbroken about all of it.

The rest of the time we spent visiting with my parents and other family (my aunt and her family, my brother and his) and it felt kind of unsatisfying. The time felt short, it felt distracted . . .I don’t know, I just couldn’t let go of this dark cloud of my mom’s health and maybe drug addiction hanging over me. We ended up getting a hotel the last two nights because the emotional stress + shittier than normal (already shitty) sleep was just too much. We had a two queen bed suite that we really couldn’t afford but it felt like important self care in an otherwise overwhelming situation.

My mom has not gone back to the hospital since she was released while we were in Denver. Did my hiding the stash of drugs help? Maybe. Maybe she’ll go back again (it’s only been a week and a half) or maybe whatever it was has worked itself out or  . . .I don’t know. I’m trying to keep my connection to all of it light and loving, not let myself dive into the depths of ‘what’if.’ There’s so little I can do but spin, and I don’t want to do that. So, I wait. And I get a little nervous whenever I see I’ve missed a call from my parent’s house phone number because so often those calls have been from my dad telling me my mom is in the hospital again. But so far, the calls this week have been my mom reminding me to get some things for the boys from the Easter Bunny. So, I breathe deep and keep going.

But . . .

Ansel is THREE! And he has slid right into being the much talked about ‘threenager.” Laurie is feeling the brunt of it, I think. The attitude and whining that have ticked up, seemingly right in line with his passage into a new year. But also, his language and conversation continues to become more complex and nuanced. He has begun asking the ‘why’, seeking more information than just ‘what’s that?’ (though he still asks that plenty too!) And he tells us about his dreams, makes up more stories, plays more creatively. It just keeps getting deeper and smarter and more thoughtful. And I suppose those kinds of things always come with a bit of attitude, right?

After showing almost 0 interest in peeing or pooping on a potty since the disasterous Potty Training Failure of 2017, Laurie made an audacious promise in a weak moment while changing one of his horrific diapers. “If you start peeing and pooping the potty, we’ll get you a Minnie Car You Can Drive.” (The “Minnie Car I Can Drive” has been on Ansel’s dream toy list since Christmas, and we’ve simply ignored it whenever it came up because OMG those things are huge and expensive and um, MY car doesn’t even fit in the garage!) His eyes lit up and he sat on the potty, though nothing actually, you know, happened. But that kid does not forget a promise, especially about the Minnie Car so . . .now we are committed. On a recent trip to Toys R Us (RIP) to check out liquidation sales, we saw one and he sat in it and it was adorable and also, maybe, could work? So, I made him a sticker chart and laminated a picture of the car and starting Monday, we begin attempt #2 at getting this kid and his man poops out of diapers. My mom has graciously offered to purchase the car if it happens, so I just have to get over my resentment about the garage. But not having to deal with gigantic shits will definitely help on that account.

Angus is sitting up! On his own! In the last week he’s gone from unsteadily lasting a few second to having full minutes at a time in a stable full on sit! He is also tolerating being on his stomach more (something he has actively hated since we put him there months ago. Once he could roll, it was basically a test of wills while we put him on his tummy, he rolled to his back, we rolled him to his tummy, etc.) So, I think the dreamy sitting-while-playing-somewhat-unattended phase may be in our near future!

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This post has taken like two weeks to write but I’m too fucking tired to start over so bear with the edits and updates.

I’ve had a series of difficult things happen, aside from operating at a half tank due to the shift parenting situation, which will last only one more week. (it’s over now, praise 7lb baby Jesus!) So, this is about hard things. That’s your content warning.

  1. That pseudo promotion thing I was working toward? It was denied. And I am feeling all kinds of feelings about it, though mostly resentment. The problem, from my perspective, has to do with the combination of unions + bad communication. There are really good things about unions – they provide protections for jobs, bolster equity (or, should anyway) and support living wages and good benefits through collective bargaining. I am very much in support of unions. But, there are sometimes problems in application, and that’s the problem here. I work for a fucking huge local government, with lots of departments and jobs. Those jobs are all organized by classification to ensure equitable pay across departments, which is a great thing (again, in theory.) But, for this reason, they are necessarily broad and somewhat vague. There are also pay charts that work within the context of job classifications, so that X job class falls within a certain band within the pay chart and then you progress stepwise as you accumulate years of service. When I was hired, I assumed the salary I was offered was based on this table and calculated by my years of experience and my education. But this isn’t the case, it turns out. It also turns out that there are people on my team who are the same job class as me who aren’t doing the same work as me. And it turns out there are people on my team with far less experience who are making the same salary as me. The only recourse available to me was this job reclassification request, which was fully supported by my boss. But the determination was that the work I am doing is actually in the class I’m in (which means that those other people are actually doing work from a class lower than they are, but I doubt they are going to be asking to be downgraded anytime soon . . .) I’m not really sure how I am going to move forward in my job knowing all of this and feeling so incredibly resentful of my prior boss (who hired me at the low rate when, it turns out, she didn’t have to) and of my colleagues (one in particular) who doesn’t do her fucking job but is making a LOT of money (a lot more than me, because she has seniority) and a little bit one of the new ones who is making the same rate I am, though she’s basically new to the field (but she’s great, so I’m not as upset about that one.) Luckily, my current boss is super supportive and has offered to help me with an appeal (if I want to do that) or to find out what I need to do to have the reclass actually happen (what additional work would need to be done.) And, as long as I’m paying dues, I figured I might as well reach out to my union rep as well. Though it’s been a week and I haven’t heard from her so . . .
    1. I talked to my union rep and she gave me a few options to pursue. I’m going to ask my boss about putting in for ‘lead pay’ which would both acknowledge my additional work and get me some $$. I’m also going to appeal the reclassification and work towards having the powers that be understand that the job description doesn’t accurately capture the work we do and THAT’S the issue. At least there’s a little hope on the horizon to temper my resentment for the time being.
  2. My mom. In the last month, my father has had to call 911 three FOUR times for my mom. The first time was following a week of a severe stomach flu and she couldn’t stand and was in immense pain from her back (an ongoing issue after a spinal fusion that didn’t really help.) They took her in, rehydrated her and gave her a bunch of pain medication (in addition to the immense amount she already takes) then sent her to a rehab facility for a day where she did some PT and was then released. The second time, my dad found my mom confused and staring into space – just out of it – about 4 days after she got home from the rehab place. They took her in and determined she had toxic levels of pain medication in her system because she was so dehydrated, which they attributed to the stomach virus. They gave her fluids and then released her. The most recent time he again found her groggy, confused and slurring her speech. At the hospital they found her, again, basically poisoned by her own medications in kidney failure. When I spoke to my dad yesterday, he said her kidney values were doing better but were still dangerously low. I feel like there is something more going on here – as these levels of dehydration after being hydrated with IV fluids so much recently (plus, according to my eagle scout honest dad, drinking a LOT of water in between. My mom was released a few days later after her kidney values returned to normal (on a Monday) and then, this past Friday night, she started hallucinating and having seizures, and ultimately had to be restrained and medically sedated to be brought to the hospital, where she was intubated and taken to neuro ICU. They ran a number of tests to see if it was a virus or bacterial infection, but all the cultures came up clear. They reduced her medications again, once more thinking it is a drug interaction. You’ll have to pardon me if I don’t trust that diagnosis just yet. She came home yesterday and I am praying there won’t be any more trips to the hospital for a very long time. Confronting your parents’ morality is horrifying. I really can’t even fully contemplate losing my mom, even as complicated as my relationship with her has been.
  3. About three weeks ago my left toe started getting tingly, kind of like it had fallen asleep, but no amount of moving around or shifting things seemed to help. Slowly, over a few days, the tingling/numbness starting spreading from my big toe to the next two toes into my foot, until the entire inside of my foot (but most notably the ball of my foot and my toes) were constantly pins and needles numb. Because this is the same foot where I had my ankle surgery, I assumed it was probably related. After a whole hullabaloo of getting records sent, I was finally able to see an orthopedic surgeon. (side note: I LOVED my ortho in Denver. He was so kind and wonderful and listened to me and was never an asshole.) This guy was a total dick. For one thing, after I wasn’t able to book an appointment to see him until ALL of my records came in, he clearly hadn’t read my chart at all. He took x-rays and immediately jumped in to telling me I needed an ankle fusion without even asking why I was there. After explaining that he wouldn’t do an ankle replacement (I didn’t ask him to) because people my age who get ankle replacements “end up with below the knee amputations in their 50s” and telling me ankle fusion was the only solution (to what? Not clear since he didn’t fucking let me get a word in edgewise, except when he corrected me while I was talking about the kind of surgery I got – sorry I’m not a surgeon, asshole.) He then launched into an intense lecture about weight loss. And I just about lost it except I was tender because (see above) so I just got really depressed instead of really angry. He ended up giving me a steroid shot which has not reduced my pain nor addressed the tingling at all. So, now I’m trying to get my records to another doctor for another consult because fuck that guy even if I have to get an ankle fusion I’m not gonna have him do it.
  4. We are going to Denver on Friday for a visit and are celebrating Ansel’s third birthday (OMG WHAT?!? Also for another post) and getting Angus baptized by my Celebrity Lutheran Pastor Friend. That’s awesome. Less awesome? My brother and sister-in-law (who haven’t met Angus and who, in particular my brother, haven’t really even acknowledged that he exists) decided to go to Moab this weekend and “might be able to squeeze us in” after they get back. It makes me fucking angry but also really sad because I wish I had a brother who even gave a shit when we were coming to town to visit.

So, all of that’s hard. But, there are other things too:

  • Angus is 7 months as of Friday and is finally on the charts, in the 2nd percentile, just shy of 15 lbs. He’s still not sitting up unassisted, but does seem to be pushing up into pre-crawl type of postures. He’s sleeping like shit but maybe it’ll be better once he’s in his own room (which will happen as soon as we sell the mattress currently occupying it.)
  • Ansel got a bunk bed and he mostly loves it and he’s the cutest with his collection of toys and “friends” which have been so profuse lately that he’s been crowded out of bed.
  • Just generally, my kids are adorable and magical.
  • I’ve been going to the ELCA Lutheran church down the street with Ansel and Angus and while it’s complicated (because the church I went to in Denver was SO unique, and I helped found it, and my friend/pastor is magical and so nothing will probably ever live up to that) it’s also been really great. The church is very much a neighborhood church which, since our community is historically and predominately African-American, means its about 100X more diverse (racially, ethnically, theologically) than any other church I’ve been too. I immediately felt welcome and while there have been a few somewhat awkward moments when I’ve come out (which I’ve had to do more explicitly, since Laurie hasn’t been coming with me, which means it only becomes clear when I say something directly) everyone has been incredibly kind and friendly and even if I might be the first queer person they’ve had in their congregation, they are just new to it, not averse to it. I need to be going to church and I think this is the place I need to be. I think it’s going to stretch me but also, I want my kids to grow up in a community that has all of these different kind of people. And there’s something that really resonates with me about being in a faith community in my physical neighborhood even if it’s not full of people who are 100% on the same theological or social page as me but who are willing to still be in conversation and community. Like, that feels way more important in a faith journey for me than being around a bunch of white progressives who never push me to think differently. I’m sure I’ll be back to talk about this more as I keep thinking about it.
  • I got to see L in her show (she was the highlight, and if you don’t believe me because I’m a biased source, please see these reviews (here and here) which aren’t necessarily glowing until they talk about my boo) and we went to dinner after, which is the first time in over a year that we have been on a date, alone, without a child or children. It was pretty great.

I’m glad I did that, there at the end – reminded myself that I still have a lot to be grateful for in the midst of this shit sandwich I’ve been eating. May we all eat shit-sandwiches with a side of gratitude fries.

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Ugh. I started writing almost two weeks ago and never got around to finishing because life feels like its mostly survival mode right now. As it happens, I have my full lunch break available to me before I need to leave to go give a training, and I am going to spend it updating because really, I need to write something for my own sanity.

I want to give an update on our lives because I use this blog so much as a virtual baby book/helpful memory tool for myself. But also . . .I feel like I need and want to address so much of the insanity of the world. I want to put down in words the anguish I feel that once again children were killed while going to FUCKING SCHOOL. I want to express my horror and outrage that these kids have never known a world that didn’t include regular school shootings – a utopia I was able to live with until my junior year of high school when Columbine happened down the street. I want to tell you that L and I are actually seriously saying things like, “do you think we should try and move somewhere that doesn’t have this problem before our kids are old enough to go to school?” and “yes, that or figure out how to educate them somewhere or somehow where this can’t happen.”

And I’ll sign all the things and donate money to all the organizations and march in the streets whenever there’s a reason to but it doesn’t seem to DO anything. Like, how many times do we let children get murdered in their classrooms before we actually address what’s happening? We’ll lock up tide pods and outlaw Kinder Eggs before we put any limitations on guns. My anger and my helplessness feels suffocating.

Of course, more than guns this is about the way we are raising boys in this country. Or, maybe not more . . .it’s the two together, the insane and sickening combination of the two. And I am doing my part to end that, but my boys are two out of thousands, the classes I teach are hundreds out of millions. I feel beat down and worn out and so, so scared for the lives of my little humans and all the little humans.

So. There’s that.

And also, my parents. My parent’s and their failing health and my distance and the guilt, but also the relief, that distance causes. My mom was in the hospital twice in a week – once for debilitating back pain they determined was caused by a stomach virus that had her down for the count, the second for a nuerological reaction caused by pain meds from the back pain + dehydration from the stomach virus. Those are unique things not chronic or regular conditions, but my parents are both limited in their mobility and really, honestly probably shouldn’t be living alone in a huge house. When they sold the home I grew up in, my brother and I were hopeful they’d look into a condo or apartment in a retirement community where they’d have access to some additional support. Instead, they bought an even bigger house but – at least – a ranch style with everything on one level. My brother had to go help my dad get my mom to the hospital and, because he’s a big selfish douchebag, was a real asshole about it but also it’s fair to set up boundaries and while I don’t think he can do that in a compassionate way, I do think he’s allowed to say no to some of this. But I’m not there – which saddens and also relieves me – so who am I to have an opinion?

Laurie is in tech this week (started Saturday with full day – 10a-10p – rehearsals both weekend days) which means there is no rest for the weary. These are longer nights and more involved rehearsals. They have preview nights on Thursday and Friday and then open this weekend. Once the show is officially open, things should slow down a little. I am doing a lot of breath work to let go of the things that I usually spend time on – wiping down all the counters every night, putting all the toys in their proper location – and focusing on getting the bare minimum done.

On the upside, Angus seems to have really turned a corner, going from still somewhat regularly cranky to a beaming ball of sunshine. This has been both slowly coming down the pike with age, but was boosted by getting him on omeprazole last week, which seems to have really improved his reflux. Like, y’all, he’s a different baby. Of course, our insurance doesn’t cover this medication because it’s compounded (hello, he’s a very small baby who needs things in small doses which are not always made by companies) and because it’s available over the counter (but only if you are an adult person who can swallow a pill in the available dosage.) So, we are in the process of appealing the decision, though we’ll likely fork over the $40/month if we have to because it’s made such a radical difference in his (and our) lives.

Ansel is also really on point with the cute these days (I hope I didn’t just tempt fate by writing that) and, mostly, not being too much of a turdler. He’s started being much more wildly imaginative in his play, which is SO FUN. He combines different universes he knows or has made up to create new ideas and has started telling hilariously outlandish stories. Of course, a lot of this is helped by his ever increasing vocabulary and understandability.

A few weeks ago, I decided to cut out our nighttime (before bed) nursing session to help make my life a bit easier when putting them both to bed alone. Nursing Ansel before bed, even for the limited amount of time I set up a while ago, meant having to either have Angus to sleep beforehand (a laudable, but not always achievable, goal), juggle him on my lap while Ansel is nursing (and he is a big back and forth guy) or lay him down somewhere and hope he doesn’t lose his shit. All of these options were stressful for me and ended up compromising my ability to be fully present for nursing or feeling bad for Angus or both. Once I’d made my mind up, I picked a day where L was home for a few nights in succession in case it really went sideways, then I told him it was the last night he’d have milk before bed. I’d done something similar with naps, so it wasn’t out of left field.

I was a little shocked to find that he took it in stride, for the most part. The first few nights he cried a little when I reminded him, but he was pretty easily distracted with books (I upped the number we read together) and snuggles. Since then, he has asked a couple of times, then acquiesced when reminded or, more recently, just stated “no milk” as a fact while getting ready for bed. Given his intense love of nursing, this is not what I was expecting.

So, that means we are down to just early mornings when he crawls into our bed and nurses. I’m inclined to keep this one for the foreseeable future, since it affords all of us a little extra sleep and without it, he’d likely just want to get up and go. So, for now, that one stays in place. Still, it feels huge that we are down to just once a day, since 6 months ago I was pretty well fair game when I was home.

Angus can sit with support, though he’s still working on his tripod. He call roll both directions, and loves putting things in his mouth. He continues to be very chatty, cawing and cooing and squawking all day long. He is beginning to settle into some patterns with sleeping that are making our nights less complicated. He has tried frozen banana (big win), a piece of waffle (which he gummed to bits and then easily swallowed) and tasted but disliked oatmeal. He already kind of seems better at chewing than his brother. We are proceeding with caution in terms of solids because he’s not sitting unassisted yet, but he’s SUPER interested in food and seems to be enjoying it, so we are gonna go for it. Doc, PT and IBCLC also seem to have varying opinions.

L started domperidone a few weeks ago to try and boost her supply and get Angus off donor milk (or at least less reliant on it.) It seems to be having the desired effect, though because the problem seems to be with his latch and frustration with slower letdowns, we are still using a lot of bottles. On her long days, she was easily able to pump the average/necessary 1 oz/hour and I keep reminding her that she is doing great. It’s much easier on this side of the pump, I must admit.

Angus hit 6 months on Feb 9th and Ansel will be 3 in less than a month. WHAT?!? Sometimes I still don’t understand how I am an adult enough to have two children but then I have moments of doing things that vaguely remind me of my childhood, but from the otherside and I’m like . . .oh, yeah. I’m a mom now. It’s mostly when I have a baby on my hip and am also cutting a sandwich into quarters or some other Normal Rockwellian type of shit. Strangely, when I am on my 5th cup of coffee in as many hours while attempting to both encourage the baby to move towards the light up turtle and fully embody Daisy Duck while she throws a part for the monster trucks, I don’t have that same sense of motherhood.

I think there’s more but this seems like a lot already and my time is running out anyway. But here are some cute pictures!

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It has been a VERY long month. February, despite lasting all of two days, will probably follow suit. It is a marathon, not a sprint . . .I’m trying to pace myself.

I finished up one of my busiest parts of the year, where I am teaching 5-7 classes every day for weeks on end (often without a ‘planning period’ off because I am trying to cover so many schools and get to all of the sections of health in each of them), sometimes providing 8 hour trainings for teachers (which is a 10 hour day, without any commute) and waking up WAY earlier than usual (or than any human should. Why in fuck’s name do high schools start at 7 am!?!)  I talked about birth control so much I’m sure I was reciting facts about IUDs (in developmentally appropriate, health literacy based language) in my sleep.

Having to get up so early (many days I was leaving the house at 6am or earlier) meant often not seeing my family until I got home in the evening. Ansel was less than excited about this turn of events. When he’d wake and find me not in my usual spot, where we usually have a little while to snuggle and nurse, he’d start sobbing and telling L he wanted her to go to work instead of me. So, all the exhaustion + some mom guilt + wishing I could save my partner from scorned toddler wrath.

When I have been home in the evenings and weekends, L has often been gone at rehearsal. After the first few tries of taking Angus with her and discovering that he was totally willing to scream his high pitched inconsolable wail for the entire drive from Tacoma to North Seattle (sometimes during rush hour), L called and told me she would have to quit the show – she couldn’t handle the stress of the screaming. Rather than do that, we decided she would just leave him home with me. The director also worked the schedule out so that in the early weeks, L was mostly just going on the weekends. Things are starting to pick up now, and will continue to do so for the next few weeks. Then, of course, they open at the end of February with a run through the first two weekends of March. Ships passing in the night, blah blah blah . . .

Shift parenting has been challenging. There has been reminding Ansel that I am also the boss of him (ha ha ha ha! As if any of us are actually the bosses of our toddlers!)and convincing him to nap when I’m home.  I held out one weekend, even though it meant he didn’t actually go to sleep until close to 4pm but since then, he’s gone down much easier for me, so I’m calling it a win. It did also involve a lot of him telling me ‘I’m crying!” and saying “No thank you Mama!” to my offers of back rubs or songs. Cute + heartbreaking. Then, there is what I am calling “The StruggleGus” – which are the nights (always nights) when Angus is virtually inconsolable and screaming while I am trying to put Ansel to sleep. This week, I had two nights where I felt close to losing my shit. Ansel was a terror, the house was a wreck, Angus screamed for hours on end, the dogs got into the trash . . .and I thought maybe I couldn’t do it anymore. More seriously, I thought I wanted a cigarette really badly which isn’t a craving I’ve had in a long, long time.

I’m looking forward to the shift parenting being over, in part because weathering the hard stuff is SO much easier with a comrade in arms. To this end, last night I called in back up and our friend who lives nearby came and held the screaming baby while I put Ansel down, then switched off with me trying everything possible to get him to sleep. It still sucked, but it was much easier to keep my wits about me.

L has a couple of solid leads on some jobs, and she’s very excited about the prospect (minus the anxiety rabbit hole of childcare. I have resolutely stuck my head in the sand on that one!) which will have the benefit of both boosting her self esteem and getting her back into work she likes + adding some $$ to our family (hopefully . . .again, the childcare thing . . .) There’s a newly opened performing arts complex in the city just north of us and she has some connections there. They are city jobs that pay well and while it’s not her 100% dream job, it would be a good step forward.

I have also been working on getting a ‘promotion’ (not exactly the right term, but . . .) at my job as well. It’s a little complicated because unions + county government and how all of that works. Essentially, I have been asked to do work above my ‘classification’ basically since I started here, because it’s work I’d done before and have the skill and knowledge to do. This wasn’t a big deal to me because it’s work I like, but over the last 18 months I’ve grown steadily more resentful about it, primarily because (a) one of the other people in my position who has been here for 7+ years (in the job, with the county much longer) doesn’t even do the work we are supposed to do in our classification and is making a LOT more money than me because of seniority and (b) we just hired new people who I am training and who didn’t come with the skill I have and won’t be doing the work I’m doing and I know they were both hired at the same rate as me. It’s hard not to feel kind of taken advantage in this situation.

The process for moving to the next classification, though, is a lengthy and bureaucratic one which I began in November. I had a meeting almost two weeks ago with HR and my boss (and bosses boss) which was nerve wracking and intimidating (I almost cried afterwards from the stress) and it will be another 3-5 weeks before I hear anything. It would mean a slight raise and a II instead of a I on my classification, but it comes with the benefit of being a slightly more protected role (for complicated union reasons) and recognizing my work, which is what I’m really after. I have a lot of anxiety about what I’ll do if the reclassification doesn’t happen, in terms of managing my own feelings. But, cart before the horse.

It’s taken me almost a week to write this post, and things have changed a lot even in those few days, in terms of what I want to write about and what feels important enough to share and process. I wanted to write about #metoo and how to raise boys in this world who aren’t just concerned with not raping people but are also genuinely interested in active consent and mutual pleasure. I wanted to write about the complexities and gifts of being a non-gestational parent to one kid and a gestational parent to another – the ways in which biology can get in the way of parenting sometimes. I wanted to write about our upcoming trip to Denver and our plans to hire a Minnie Mouse character to come to the birthday/baptism party we are planning. I wanted to write about how we are starting to have community in the ways I want and need as a parent and a person – people who come over to hang out even when its hard and not fun, people who will of course watch your kid he’s so great! On short notice and with no pay and how good that feels and how sure it makes me that Tacoma was 100% the right choice. And there’s more . . .But if I don’t post this now, I never will. And, Ansel woke up at 4am today and I feel like I’m barely forming sentences let alone able to write anything of substance.

So, at least there’s a list – for me, if no one else. Maybe I’ll get back to those, maybe I won’t. There feels like both too much time and also never enough. When I have a swath of time laid in front of me, I can barely manage to stare into space or at my phone (though I rarely am able to make the more beneficial decision to go the fuck to sleep) and the rest of the time is taken up with all the other things.

But, there it is . . .an update or something like it.

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