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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Friday, July 18, 2014

My Everything

I was 19 when I first felt the lump on my left breast.  I was young then.  I didn't worry about hardly anything, and I didn't worry about the lump.  I asked my doctor about it during a check up.  He felt it and told me it was "probably fine."  Life went on.  The lump remained.

After I had my first son, ten years later, I remember consciously feeling for the lump and realizing it was gone.  I wasn't quite sure when it had disappeared but I remember feeling relief.  Being 29, I wasn't as carefree as I had been in my late teens.  I still felt somewhat invincible, having just created a life and birthed a baby, but a general wariness had begun to rear its head in me.  Not even thirty, I had already known of a few acquaintances - my age- who had been diagnosed with cancer.  Some survived.  Some didn't.  A tragedy and a rarity, for sure.  But still, the idea that contemporaries of mine weren't immortal was unnerving.

Five years went by.  Then I had my third child.  I breastfed him, like my other two, and, like the two times before, I endured chronic clogged ducts.  They were an annoyance and a pain.  When I felt one coming on, I would submerge myself in a hot bath and massage my breast, trying to dislodge the clog.  It was then, during a bath in April, that I felt it.  The lump.

It was back.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Head on Over...

To the Ms. JD website today (click here).  There's an interview of yours truly!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hello from the Cape and a GIVEAWAY for the Summer Sun

I've been MIA for the last month or so.  There are several excuses reasons - three children, lack of school, the new season of Orange is the New Black, laziness, a health scare, and most recently, vacation.

Hello from Cape Cod.  

Mayo Beach, Wellfleet, Cape Cod
We come for two weeks every year.  And I spend the rest of the year looking forward to it.  It is, quite simply, my favorite place on earth.  (As I've previously written about here and here and here and here).  I've been drinking way too much and eating way too much and avoiding any and all work/stress/responsibility.  It's been absolutely wonderful.  

With all this beaching and swimming and relaxing we've been spending a lot of time in the sun. And we are pale.  Every last one of us.  Pale, pale, pale.  (I'll still be pale at the end of this vacation, by the way.  That's the goal.)  The fact that this is considered something that we should work on or rectify by laying in the sun and exposing ourselves to UV rays so that our skin will change to a darker shade is nonsensical, sad, and a topic for another day. So we embrace our pale skin, seek out shade, and layer on the sunscreen, almost obsessively.  I am proud to say that my kids have never ever had a sunburn.  But it's a pain, and a constant anxiety.  

Through this whole blogging thing that I do, I occasionally get offers to promote products, get free samples, etc.  I usually ignore them - not so much because I am so above it all, but because that's just not really what this blog is.  But occasionally, one is just to apropos to ignore. 

Such as Sunscreen Bands.

  
The bands tell you when you need to reapply sunscreen, and when you have had your max sun exposure.  Another tool in the artillery against sunburns?  Sign me up!  Here's how it works:  

Step 1:  You put on the band before you go out in the sun.  



Step 2: You expose the band in the sun until it turns dark purple.  (Kids love this, btw).  



Step 3: Once the band turns purple, put sunscreen on the band (as well as yourself).  

Step 4: Go have fun in the sun.  


Step 5:  Check the band.  When it turns light purple, reapply the sunscreen.  



Step 6:  Have some more fun in the sun.  


Step 7: Recheck your band.  If it has turned white, it's time to cover up and get out of the sun - you've reached your max sun exposure for the day.  


Lucky for us, our bands turned white just as we were heading home.  

So here is my attempt at a professional product review.   I am going to be very, very professional.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Deep Thoughts on a (Bizarre) Solo Car Trip

Long car trips by myself used to make me anxious.  I would do them, but I would dread them.  They were boring and monotonous and stressful and every once in a while I would have a really bad one, where I would get lost (Mapquest, anyone?) or run out of gas (just once, pre-cell phone), or have to pull over on the side of a highway during a blinding rain storm.  

In a former life, having a companion for a long car trip was definitely preferable.  

Then I had kids.  And my car trip companions tend to make the car journeys rather difficult.  There are vomiting incidents, multiple bathroom breaks, malfunctioning DVD players, thrown food, breastfeeding stops, tantrums, yelling, crying, and just generally noise.  Really, really loud noise.  

All of a sudden, the idea of a solo car trip became enticing.  And lucky for me, I took one such solo trip last weekend, to New York City for a bachelorette party.

I was really looking forward to this trip for a number of reasons.  I was able to see my sister.  I was able to celebrate my good friend (the bachelorette herself).  I was able to get my nails done. I was able to order a bloody mary at a bar at 1pm and then order another one after that.  I was able (by the grace of God) to stay out until 2am dancing.  At a real life bar!

But I also was able to get a little over of 7 hours to myself in the car.   SEVEN HOURS with no one to bother me!  SEVEN HOURS of me and my own thoughts!  

This rarely happens.  The thinking that is.  I am generally always doing.  Feeding, cleaning, carpooling, refereeing, cooking, talking, yelling, organizing, internet surfing, planning, going, going, going, and then when that's all done, I usually watch some crappy reality television just so I don't have to think.  And then I sleep.  For as long as I possibly can.  

But in a car, all you can do is think.  And I thought a lot.  For example, I decided that: 

Friday, June 13, 2014

I Am a Shadow of My First Time Mom Self

I remember being on maternity leave with my first child, Braden, and complaining to my husband that I never had time to eat lunch.  Or shower.  Or check email.  Or do laundry.  Or perform any kind of self care or household chore.

I am sure I was sincere in this sentiment, and I do remember a general feeling of exasperation.  I remember reaching the point where I gave in, and took a shower with the bouncy seat in the bathroom.  I remember rushing as quickly as I could to get the shampoo out of my hair.  Shaving was out of the question, of course, because the baby was crying, dear God, and I must get to him.

With all due respect to my former self....

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Need to eat?  Need to shower?  Need a breather, for God's sake?  Put the baby down in a bouncy seat, a swing, the crib, on a dirty towel on the floor.  Anywhere.  It's okay if he/she cries, you know. For a little bit.  He/she can't go anywhere.  Everything will be a-okay.

Do you hear that, Shannon from 2008?  PUT THE BABY DOWN AND LET THE BABY CRY.  EAT A SANDWICH.  Because you know what, Shannon from 2008?  You are going to have two more babies and THIS IS AS EASY AS IT'S GOING TO GET.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The End of an Era

Tomorrow is Braden's last day of preschool.  Next year he'll be in kindergarten.

It seems to be a common question to ask a parent how they are handling this.  I've done this myself.  How are you coping?  I would ask.  Can you believe it?  I suppose it's because it is a rite of passage, albeit a manufactured one.  There's nothing innately transformative about the exact age a child graduates from preschool.  Braden will still be the same kid next week that he is this week.  He'll still love on his brothers, raid our snack cabinet, throw the odd tantrum here and there about absolutely nothing, and cry when we try to brush his hair.  He's still our same little boy.

I've tried not to get all emotional about it.  

But I can't deny it.  Between the "graduation" ceremony last week, the pictures sent home from school,  and the slideshow the teachers made of all the kids (which yes, did make me cry), I can't help but take it as an opportunity, or maybe a mandate, to reflect.  

Our little boy isn't so little anymore.  

It's subtle things that drive this home for me.  The size of his feet, for example.  Sometimes I'll look at his feet, and think, My God, what happened?  It's not that they are particularly big.  It's just that they look like kid feet.  The baby feet - that cute little padding on the bottom, and the chubby little toes - are gone.  

Our conversations have gotten progressively more complicated - moving from the simple, toddler concepts, to the difficult ones.  When I told him the other day that my grandmother is in her nineties his response was Oh man, she's going to die soon.  He has started asking not only about death, but about religion.  Illness.  Even race, but in the most amazingly innocent way.  (What color is that girl's skin, mommy?  It's not blonde like mine.).  About marriage and how most boys marry girls but some boys marry boys, and how that's okay.  About divorce (or "breaking up," as he calls it), and about how it must have been sad for mommy that when she was little that her mommy and daddy lived in different houses.  

Friday, May 30, 2014

Hi. I [Was] in Delaware. And I Loved It.

We hadn't planned on doing anything for Memorial Day.  For no real reason, except for we didn't get our act together to plan something.  But then at the beginning of May, during a particularly stir crazy weekend, I felt the urge to go away.  I asked my husband if he was up for it, and he said yes, as long as we went somewhere within driving distance.

So started the internet research.  

What's within a 3ish hour drive of DC?  I started looking west.  Surely there is some mountain get away with a pristine clear lake and a cute little cabin?  I looked at Deep Creek Lake, Nemacolin, Wintergreen, and a bunch of other lake/mountain areas I had never heard of.  I ended up feeling eh about all of them.  Eh?

Then I turned east.  Do we dare brave beach traffic on Memorial Day?  And where to go?  New Jersey?  Delaware?  Virginia?  More internet research.  Questions posed to Facebook.  And ultimately, we decided on Delaware.  Bethany Beach, Delaware, specifically.  

I have always known that Delaware is a common beach destination for DCers.  After all, it's only a 2-3 hour drive.  It seems like nearly everyone I talk to rents a house there, has a house there, have friends who have a house there, etc.  But my lack of knowledge has kept us from exploring the Delaware beaches for the eight years we have lived in the DC area.  

It's time, I told my husband.  We're going to Delaware.

We did.  And now I have fallen in love.  With Delaware.  

Prior to moving to DC, all I really knew of Delaware was that Wayne's World clip.  And corporate law.  It certainly isn't universally known across the country as a tropical beach destination.  It's just Delaware.  

But ahhhhhhhhhh, Delaware is beautiful, people!  

We booked a two bedroom condo at a place called Sea Colony.  From the pictures, it didn't look that enticing.  It is a community of poo brown condo towers.  

Photo taken from Wyndham Vacation Rentals.
Not normally my cup of tea.  It's a bit on the cheesy side, for sure.  But it was right on the ocean, there were multiple pools, and the price was reasonable.  

Poo brown and cheesy aside, our condo was awesome.  Just look at our view!!!!


 
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