Monday, October 20, 2014

Four Years Ago You Rocked My World

Quite literally.


I thought I knew what it was going to be like having more than one child.  I was wrong.

I thought there was no way I could love anyone as much as your older brother.  I was wrong about that too.

Our first months together were HARD.  We both struggled.  We both lost a lot of sleep.  We both cried.  A lot.

And then we bonded.  Big time.  And before I knew it, I couldn't imagine a time when you weren't there.  It's as if I had known you forever.  As if you had been here all along.


I fell in love hard.

And the awesome thing is that it happens over and over again.  I fall in love with you every single day.  And I love discovering who you are.

You are unique, that's for sure.

You are the pickiest eater I have ever seen.  And yet you are obsessed with toy food.  You've been known to sleep with a plastic tomato or hamburger bun, and you are being a hot dog for Halloween this year (your choice).

Casey's Halloween Costume
You refuse to smile for pictures.  EVER.  But then sometimes, I can crack you, much to your own chagrin.


You are quiet - figuratively and literally.  Sometimes you speak in a whisper, and you are not one to gush with your emotions like your big brother.  But that means that when I do get an "I love you," it means so much more.  I melt when I hear those words.

What you don't say in words, you make up for in cuddles.  You are the cuddliest boy I know.  You always want to be close to me.  And even though I probably shouldn't carry you around anymore, it's hard for me to say no.  So I'll keep doing it until you stop asking.


You are so brave.  You have been poked and prodded by needles and sat in ER waiting rooms more times than I'd care to admit.  But you rarely cry.  And you are easily pacified by a lollipop in any situation.

You suck your thumb and twirl your hair.  And it is adorable.


You are a boy's boy.  You are all cars and trucks and balls and superheroes.  You rarely play with girls, though you do have a soft spot for a girl named Lila.  You blush when you talk about her.


You acclimate to social situations ridiculously easily, because you don't overthink it.  You are just yourself.  For lack of a better word, you are chill.  You are already cooler than I ever was.

You love Disney World.  And roller coasters.  And youtube videos of both.  (But especially Disney World).


You have an innate talent for naming that tune.  You can tell a song after literally one beat of music. It kind of freaks your daddy and I out.

You cry every single time you take a bath.  Every.  Single.  Time.

You are an amazing little brother.  When Braden is at school, you sometimes cry and incessantly ask when he will be home to play with you.  Sometimes the two of you sleep in the same twin bed, just because.


You are an amazing big brother.  It took some time for you to warm to Colin, but you are coming around.  And as a mother, it is beautiful to see.


You are a momma's boy.  You and I have an inherent connection that only the two of us understand. Sometimes I will hear you cry, and watch someone else try to comfort you, but I know it's me that you need.  And when I pick you up and embrace you, I can feel you relax into me.  You and me, me and you.


You are such an individual.

You are such a character.

You are a such a source of infinite joy.

You rock my world.

You are Casey.

You are 4.

And today is your birthday.

Happy birthday, my baby boy.


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Monday, October 6, 2014

Why did YOU leave?

My very first post on this blog, a whole three and a half years ago (holy crap, that's crazy), was devoted to why I left a big law firm to stay at home with my kids.  (You can find it by clicking here). It was picked up by Above the Law, a legal news site/blog, which is why people actually started reading this blog.  It's still my second most popular post (behind my post on why lawyers are so miserable, which, who knew, is a very popular google term).  

I occasionally reread my introductory post myself.  I'm not sure why.  I suppose it's a reminder as to how I got where I am, though when I read it, I find it hard to reconcile it with my current self.  I've come a long way, and I've chronicled it as the time has passed (here and here and probably a hundred other places I have forgotten about in 3.5 years).   If anything, what I've learned in the years since I first started this blog is that my story is not that unique.  SO many women have faced the issues I have faced in the legal profession.  And a lot of them, like me, have left.  

So why did you leave? 

The freelance network that I am a part of, Montage Legal Group, is conducting a survey to collect information about what law firms can do to retain talented attorneys.  And while it is useful to talk to attorneys still working in law firms, the better source is probably those that have actually left.  

So, if you previously worked at a law firm or legal job and left due to dissatisfaction, or if you think your law firm missed an opportunity to retain you...


It takes five minutes, and your responses are anonymous and confidential.  (Just click here).

And, if you really want to share your experience, consider writing it out and sharing it here on my blog, via the Your Turn Series.  

Either way, put your "story" out there!  It's a freeing thing (I speak from experience!).  


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Clinical Trials and Emotional Tribulations

For the past two weeks, I have been living, breathing, eating, sleeping, and existing in all things food allergies.

I don't know quite where to start.

I guess the beginning.

A little over a year ago I wrote a post about how my son, Casey had been diagnosed with a peanut allergy.  (He has a RAST score of over 100 - the highest you can get.)  I haven't really mentioned it since.  In part because it's not always on the forefront of my mind, and in part because I didn't think it's the kind of thing that people want to read about.

But it has become part of our daily lives and then some.

We've had meetings with his teachers and his camp counselors about how and when to use the epi-pen.  Every time he goes for a playdate, I have to have a discussion with the parents first.  Same goes for birthday parties, soccer classes, babysitters, and pretty much any time there is food and kids around.  I have written a detailed plan for all family members whose homes we visit, which includes where they need to place their nuts, what they need to do at a restaurant, and what the initial signs of an allergic reaction may be.  I have more epi-pens than I can count, stored in all sorts of places - both cars, the kitchen, the school, and in various baby sitters' purses.

Notwithstanding all this, Casey, had an allergic reaction to macaroni and cheese from the Cheesecake Factory back in July.  (There had been cross contamination with peanuts).  We had to use the epi-pen for the first time, right in the thigh.  Then we sat at the ER for four hours to be monitored.

It was at that point that I decided enough was enough.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Three Things I Don't Get

I try not to get too political/controversial/contentious on this blog.

But I am coming from a sincere place when I wonder the following:

1) Why is this new Ray Rice video so explosive?

A caveat - I don't follow or care at all about football.  I had never heard of Ray Rice.  But I do follow the news, and from what I understand, on February 15, 2014, Ray Rice was arrested on simple assault charges for assaulting his wife.  A few days later, we all got a glimpse of what happened, as a video surfaced of Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancĂ© from an elevator.  She entered the elevator standing.  She left unconscious.

Um, do you really wonder what happened to her inside that elevator?

The next month Ray Rice was indicted, and on July 24, 2014, instead of losing his job, he received a two game suspension.  Apparently, sitting out two games is an adequate punishment for knocking your wife unconscious.

On September 8, 2014, the new Ray Rice video surfaced, and we got to see what happened inside the elevator.  Here it is:



Disgusting.

The same day this video was released, Ray Rice was terminated from his Ravens contract and suspended by the NFL.  All of a sudden, a two game suspension wasn't enough.

So let me get this straight....

You can knock your wife unconscious.  You can be videotaped dragging your wife's unconscious body.  You can be indicted for assault.

And that doesn't merit a termination or suspension.  No, that's not enough.

But if, by some miracle, you happen to be caught on camera doing what everyone already knows you did, then you lose your job.

Lesson - if you choose to abuse your wife, be sure not to do it on camera.  Keep it behind closed doors, and at worse, you'll get a slap on the wrist.  And then everyone will forget about it.

I mean, just look at Chris Brown.  He beat up his girlfriend.  He did this:


And a year after he did this he released a fourth album.  It debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts.

Do we need to see actual video footage of his physical attack to be disgusted and horrified enough to boycott his music?  Just like we need to see the video of what happened inside the elevator, despite the fact that it's glaringly obvious?

I guess I just don't get it.

2) If I hear someone in the bathroom in the middle of the night, I'm going to assume it's my husband or kids or dog before I take a shot gun and kill someone through a closed door.  

I remember seeing Oscar Pistorius at the 2012 Olympics and being impressed and inspired.  A double amputee who makes it to the Olympics?  Who wouldn't be inspired?



But then he shot and killed his girlfriend while she was going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  He claims he woke up, heard a noise in the bathroom, and thought it was an intruder.  He fired four shots through a locked bathroom door, killing her instantly.

Not so inspiring.

Last week, he was found not guilty of murder.  Instead, he was convicted of culpable homicide, which in U.S terms is equivalent to manslaughter - meaning that the Judge found that he did not intentionally kill his girlfriend; he was merely negligent.  The Judge held that there was a reasonable possibility that Pistorius thought his girlfriend was an intruder when fired shots through the locked door.

I'm not going to pretend to know the intricate details of this case.  In fact, I really got the majority of my information from watching snippets of the Today Show whilst breastfeeding my son.  But let me say this:

If I hear someone in the bathroom in the middle of the night, I'm not going to assume it's an intruder. In all likelihood, I would just go back to sleep.  But if I was curious for some reason as to who was occupying the bathroom, I would do the following:

1) Look and see if my husband was in bed with me.  If yes, then go to #2
2) Look and see if my kids are in bed.  If yes, then go to #3
3) Check and see if the bathroom door was locked.  If yes, then go to #4
4) Say something like "Who goes there?"

Apparently Oscar didn't even get to #1.

Not guilty of murder?

Don't get it.

3) I never knew that taking a stance on transvaginal ultrasound was a thing.

Do you know what a transvaginal ultrasound is?  I do!  I do!  Three pregnancies, and I am an expert on them.



Look, there's Steven Colbert holding one!  It looks like a skinny dildo.  The doctor puts a condom over it (seriously), and then they put it up you, and voila, you see all sorts of things!  In my case, an embryo (hello, Baby Braden!).


Here's the thing - when you are very early in your pregnancy (like 4-10 weeks), doctors can't see the baby with an abdominal ultrasound - it's too low.   Instead, they stick the dildo thing up you and see the baby that way.

It never occurred to me to have a problem with this.

But then a few days ago, whilst breastfeeding and watching the Today Show (see above), a campaign commercial for Democratic Congressional candidate John Foust came on.  Here it is, for your viewing pleasures:



In it, Foust accuses the Republican candidate, Barbara Comstock, of supporting the following:

1) Making abortion illegal in cases of rape and incest (BAD!)
2) Overturning Roe v. Wade (BAD!)
3) Requiring women seeking abortion to undergo transvaginal ultrasound  (HUH?)

I have no idea why transvaginal ultrasounds would be controversial, because really, it's no big thing. Perhaps there are valid reasons, though the campaign commercial didn't expand on them. Ostensibly, just the term "transvaginal ultrasound" is enough for you to know that it is bad, bad, bad.

So apparently now this is a buzzword.  We can't live in a world with terrorism!  Climate change! Racism!  Abortion restrictions!  Transvaginal ultrasounds!

Don't get.

End rant.

ADDENDUM ON 9/23: I have been schooled.  I am now firmly against mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds. [But for those that see the campaign commercial and are freaked out about their upcoming OB appointment, I swear, they really aren't that bad.]

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Kid

When I look back at pictures of my son, Braden, I can almost pinpoint the time when he stopped looking like a baby.  It was when his hair grew long and he started standing up tall and running like a maniac.

As he has gotten older, his transitions have been more subtle and harder to pinpoint.  But three days ago, on his 6th birthday, when I took his annual birthday picture, he looked like a kid.


A real, life kid.

He has big feet - not abnormally big (and only a half size bigger than his younger brother), but they are kid feet.  He has fuzzy blond hair on his legs now, and the last of his baby fat is gone.  He is skinny.  This may not seem alarming, but consider the fact that he once looked like this:



He walked late - around 15 months - and also endured three years of OT for gross and fine motor delays.  Now, he writes his name like a champ.  He jumps off the diving board and swims across the pool, and was on the mini swim team this summer.  He plays soccer.  And t-ball.

And when I told him I was signing him up for all of these sports, his response was:  But when do I get to do music class?  

So I signed him up for his school choir too.

He is emotional and shy.  He is full of energy and charm.  He loves to play games on the I-pad and he sticks his tongue out when he concentrates, just like his dad.  He is a complete momma's boy still, thank God, and professes his love for me on a daily basis.  But when he doesn't get his way, he hates me just as fast and tells me so, in great detail.

He is the sweetest brother ever.  He is in a constant state of anxiety over his younger, daredevil brother Casey, getting hurt.  He shares a room with him now, and says that he wants to forever, even if we someday get a big house with more bedrooms.   He loves his baby brother Colin a bit too much and knocks him over at times in his excitement.  But he goes in with me every morning to wake him up, and screams his nickname at the top of his lungs - "Ishy Collie Bee."  Braden gave him that nickname (?!?!), and it has stuck.  We all call him that now.

He is silly and crazy and sweet and complicated.  He is unique, that's for sure.

I don't usually post videos on here of my kids.  I don't know why - I guess because it gives me the slightest semblance of privacy.  But for Braden's sixth birthday party, I just have to post this video of our recent family dance party, to the tune of Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off."  This was filmed on Braden's first day of school, and as you can see, he was not the least bit fatigued.

This is Braden.  To a T. (With a few cameos from the other men in my life).




I could not love this boy kid more.

[I would be remiss not to acknowledge that it's my husband and my 8th anniversary today - happy anniversary, sweetie!  I am writing this here in lieu of a Facebook announcement (as I am somewhat morally opposed to such things).]

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pride

As I sit down to write this post, I am letting out a big exhale.  It has been SO long since I have had more than ten minute chunks of time to myself, and my writing regularity reflects it.  But today, Colin is sleeping.  And both of "the boys," as we refer to them, are in school.

There is silence and calm.  For this moment, at least.  

Casey, my three year old, started school last week.  He is so laid back and chill compared to his brother, that I have to remind myself not to treat his milestones as an after thought.  



He returned to the same school he went to last year, with the same friends, with the same schedule - 5 mornings a week.  The teachers are different of course, but he was already familiar with them.  He is in the same room Braden was in two years ago, and by coincidence, has the same cubby.  When I picked him up on the first day, I arrived a few minutes early and was able to spy on him playing on the playground.  Ahhhh, that kid.  He is so free.  So awesome.  So engaging.  So easygoing...   And all without even trying.  I think that may be the coolest thing about him.

He is just the coolest kid.

Braden started kindergarten yesterday.  I may be biased, but God, he looked so handsome.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Best. Summer. Ever.

When I was young, I used to go away for pretty much the whole summer, to Wellfleet, Cape Cod. This was possible only because of the fact that my father was a professor (with his summers off), and my mom was her own boss.  But to me, I thought this was normal. Didn't everyone take a vacation that lasted all summer long?

To me, summers have always meant relaxation.  Sun.  Water.  Swimming.  Ice cream.  Friends. Family.  Lazy days.

As I got older, summers shifted a bit.  Once I went to college, I cut down on the amount of time I spent on the Cape.  Eventually, I had summer jobs and internships.  Once I "grew up" and got a real job as a lawyer, apart from a weather shift, summers were pretty much indistinguishable from the rest of the year.  Which was kind of depressing.

When I became a stay at home mom, one of the things I was most excited about was having my summers "off."  My relaxing summers would be back (or so I thought).  We would travel and swim and eat ice cream and do all the things I did as a kid.  No more depositions or document reviews over the Fourth of July weekend.  I was free - FREE!

There were a few things I neglected to consider in this day dream of mine:

First, I have a husband, who works at a job outside the home.  And unfortunately, he doesn't get summers off.  So should I want to live a summer of vacation and leisure, I would have to do it without him.  With three kids, that wouldn't be easy.

Second, I forgot that my kids are a pain in the ass.  No more of a pain in the ass than any other kids, of course.  But they are kids.  They cry.  They tantrum.  They whine.  They wriggle and scream as I try to apply sunscreen.  They fight with each other.  They fight with me.  They run away from me. They swim away from me.   And when they do eat ice cream, it gets all over them and makes them sticky and dirty and hyper.

Lastly, I forgot that if I am "free" in the summer, so are my kids.  Aka, there is no structure, no schedule, NO SCHOOL!  When they wake up at 7am, they are all mine, ALL DAY.  And it's a long day.  A very long day.

After two or three of these "free" stay at home mom summers, I realized that summers aren't as relaxing and carefree as they once were.  But that doesn't mean they can't be awesome.  And through trial and error and some lessons learned, I managed to create the Best. Summer. Ever.

Here's how:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin

I write this blog so people out there will read it, obviously.  

But I also write this blog for myself - because it chronicles my life.  It's something that I, and my kids, can someday look back on.  

So let me memorialize that yesterday, Robin Williams died.  And I am seriously sad about it.  

I can't figure out why.  

It's not that I'm a huge Robin Williams fan.  I like his movies, but I haven't seen them all.  But generally, I would say that I definitely like him.  I mean, what's not to like?  He seems like a genuine, nice guy.  And he's funny.  Definitely funny.  If I ever caught him on a late night show, I would watch.  Because he was wild and unpredictable and entertaining.  

His suicide was a shock to everyone, including me.  But why - because he was funny and rich and entertaining and a nice guy?  Because he had children and a mansion?   It's not like depression only hits melancholy, unsuccessful, childless, people.  But I guess we like to think it does.  Because that's what separates them from us, right?  We have our shit together.  They don't.  So we would never do anything like that.  

That line of thinking doesn't work when considering Robin Williams.  

The first time I knew someone that committed suicide was in high school.  A classmate shot himself in his friend's driveway.  The whole community was devastated.  I wasn't particularly close to the the victim, but it was hard to take in at age 15.  I just didn't get it.  I didn't understand how things could have been that bad, or how he could have done such a horrible thing to his family.  He must have just been crazy, I thought, and extremely selfish.  I didn't think about or understand depression or mental illness back then

As I have gotten older, I look at things differently.  And though I am lucky enough not to have anyone close to me suffer from severe depression or suicide, I have known of acquaintances and friends of friends who have taken their own life, including a law school classmate of mine.  

And I don't think they are crazy, or selfish.  I think they are sick.  

I have never been suicidal.  But when I was in the throws of post partum depression with my second child, I certainly felt crazy.  I had no control over my own thoughts and I couldn't eliminate feelings of utter despair.  Why?  Why was I feeling that way?  I would try to rationalize with myself that I was still the same person, that I had everything I had ever wanted in life, that there was nothing for me to be afraid of.  Rationally, I knew I shouldn't feel the way I was feeling.  But I couldn't make it go away. I couldn't enjoy one minute of life.  And the guilt, my God, the guilt I felt for that, was overwhelming.  I was a horrible mother and a horrible wife and a burden and a general failure to everyone around me.  

I never had the thought, I want to kill myself, but I certainly had the thought: I can't live like this.  

I am SO lucky in that my mental illness was extremely short lived, and was for the most part, hormone dependent. After just a few short weeks of being on an anti-depressant, the fog started lifting.  And though I have had a couple of bumps in the road, I have never again felt the despair that I felt for those few weeks right after my second son was born.  

What I experienced was a treatable, small snippet of mental illness.  For those with longer-term, full blown depression, I can only imagine that what they are feeling is worlds deeper than what I experienced. And in that way, I can relate to how I can't live like this would eventually turn into I don't want to live anymore.  

Can you imagine what Robin Williams was going through in those final moments?  The agony, the solitude, the anxiety, the despair?  Is that what my high school classmate was going through?  Or my law school classmate?  Or all of the people that fall victim to suicide?

It's too sad to really, really go there.  I don't know that I can.  

But I'm sad today.  

RIP, Robin Williams. 





Friday, August 8, 2014

Redemption and Envy

When I was 18 weeks pregnant with my first baby, as I walked out of an OB appointment an elderly woman stopped me.

Congratulations, she said.  That was the best part of my life.  

I thanked her and went on my merry way.  This wasn't entirely out of the ordinary - pregnant women get random comments from strangers all the time.  But for some reason, this comment has haunted me.

First and foremost, people don't normally say that pregnancy is the best part of their life.  In many ways, it's a miserable means to an end.  I know there are those women that "love" being pregnant. Perhaps you are one of them.  Then you will forgive me when I say you are effing weird.  Because being pregnant sucks.

From the second you get that positive test, all vices must cease.  No more alcohol.  No more prosciutto.  No more sushi or deli meat or roller coasters or advil.  That initial test is followed quickly by a hangover type nausea that overcomes you for weeks, while you simultaneously try to act normal because of course, it's not appropriate to reveal a pregnancy too early.  A fatigue passes through you that you did not know existed, and your pants become snug almost immediately due to bloating that you didn't realize was even possible.  (You don't look pregnant, you look fat, and this lasts for about 18 weeks until you are even fatter, but it is excusable pregnancy fat.  The day you give birth, it's back to just fat.)

Sure, the second semester is easier and you get to feel the miracle of the kicks and flips inside of you.  But this coincides with an increasing stress which, unbeknownst to first time pregnant women, never goes away.  There are kick counts, to ensure the baby is still alive.  There are blood tests and scans, to ensure that your baby doesn't have spina bifida or a genetic abnormality or other disorders that you can't pronounce.  You learn of complications like placenta previa and preeclampsia and gestational diabetes and you wonder how it is that anyone ever has a healthy child.  You start to feel Braxton Hicks contractions and your provider tells you that it's normal, but too much is not normal, and how much is too much, you ask - well, they're not sure.  You vacillate between being paranoid and being laid back and wonder how you ever will find the balance to be a chilled out, rational human being again.  (Hint - that part of your life is over).

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Hangover, An Epipen, and a Parasite, Oh My!

Some days are long.  Very long.

Some days are boring.

Some days are fun and free.

Some days are a mixture of all of the above.

And then some days are absolutely killer.

Like yesterday.

The following happened:

1) I woke up with a pounding head ache.  This was self inflicted, as I went to the Billy Joel concert the night before and drank one too many beers.  (Note to self - when drinking at a concert, always buy a bottle of water.  No water = pounding head ache).

2) I also woke up with a sore throat.  The family's summer cold has officially hit me.

3) With pounding head ache and summer cold, I had to pry myself out of bed to take Braden to a play date for all incoming kindergartners at his new school. (Translation - kids will play and parents will quietly judge one another).  This is normally the kind of thing I really enjoy, but I just wasn't in the mood to put my best foot forward.  I put my hair in a pony tail and wore glasses and told myself as long as I got through the event without collapsing, it would be a success.  (It was).

4)  We got carryout from Cheesecake Factory for dinner, which was supposed to make our lives easier (aka, no cooking).  Casey got macaroni and cheese.  Let me repeat - MACARONI AND CHEESE.  Casey has a severe nut allergy.  I am cognizant of that ALL THE TIME.  But I figured macaroni and cheese is safe right?  Right?  Apparently not.  Soon after eating it he started complaining about a stomach ache.  Then sores in his mouth.  Then I noticed a rash developing on his feet.  I still couldn't fathom how this could be an actual allergic reaction, but in an abundance of caution I called the doctor, who told I needed to immediately use the epi-pen.  WTF.  We've never used this before, but I have about a thousand available anywhere and everywhere for this very situation, so we did it.  Poor Casey cried and freaked out and then, as per doctor's instructions, he had to go to the ER to be observed for at least 4 hours.


Casey was/is fine.  He got a popsicle and got to watch Frozen and then fell asleep peacefully.  He's back at camp today.  But me?  I'm not so fine.  I mean, there is something a bit unnerving about STICKING A NEEDLE IN YOUR SON'S THIGH AND INJECTING HIM WITH EPINEPHRINE.  Especially when all he did was eat macaroni and cheese.  He (completely coincidentally) has an appointment with an allergist tomorrow, so we obviously will discuss it then.  I am assuming it was some kind of cross contamination at the restaurant.  Good times.

5)  As my husband was en route to the hospital with Casey (and I literally mean AS HE WAS EN ROUTE) I received an email from Braden's pediatric GI doctor.  For the past several months Braden has been complaining of stomach pain.  It is intermittent and at times severe - severe enough that I made an appointment with a pediatric GI.  She ordered a series of tests, including a stool sample (which was oh so fun to collect, let me tell you).  Well guess what.  His stool sample came up POSITIVE for a parasite.  I think my literal, out loud reaction was - You've got to be shitting me.   (No pun intended).  The good news is that this can be cured with a five day course of medicine, a probiotic, and 30 days lactose free.  But please.  REALLY?  REALLY?

Put a fork in me, I am done.

Today is Monday, and God willing, it will be a smooth, uneventful day.

Because it won't take much to put me over the edge.

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