What I know going into 2016 and approaching my 50th birthday:
1. Gratitude and kindness are free and I will continue to employ both daily.
2. I know, unequivocally, who my tribe is, some of whom I’ve not met in person, but who have been in my corner in the darkest of times. I will spend more time with them.
3. Effort is a two-way street and I’ll no longer put forth effort when it is not reciprocated. People will always make/find time for what and whom they value.
4. Getting a sweat on every day is paramount to my health and makes me a happier, more balanced person.
5. Being a mother is a journey and I will continue to parent my boys specific to their needs. There is no such thing as perfection.
6. I will continue to advocate for the things I think make this a better world: responsible gun ownership; equal human rights; women’s rights to their bodies; care for our planet; infertility insurance coverage; protection of and for animals.
7. I value my health, especially with the perspective that some friends are battling for theirs. In whatever ways I can, I will lend support.
Hoping that 2016 brings a safer place for us all to live and that clarity for what you hold dear is yours. Happy New Year!
Three months?! I think about this space a lot and committed to coming here. It has become a touchstone where current events and future desires are recorded. So much and nothing at all has happened in these three months. We are well and gratefully so.
I’ll cut to the biggest chase now, we met my husband’s birth mother. It all came together rather suddenly when she informed me she’d planned a trip to Las Vegas to visit her cousins that live there. She asked if we’d be able to meet her there as this was likely the closest she would get to CA. We decided to make the 4 hr drive with the boys, meet her, and spend a couple of days seeing the sights of the city. The meeting with her was easy, she is just as she presents on Facebook. She was noticeably and understandably nervous and she would tell me later that she just didn’t want to disappoint my husband. Prior to meeting her, we prepped our older son with how she fit into the puzzle of our family. At almost 9, he gets it. She hugged my husband for a long time as tears welled in her eyes. It was quite healing for them both…her to know that he was raised well and is a solid, happy man, and him to feel finally settled in the life he was raised in, questions answered about why.
Baby G, who will be THREE this weekend! decided this trip was the most opportune time to come down with his first bout of norovirus. He threw up for the first time in his life our first night there, and continued through the morning in the hotel. Rather than endure the unpleasantness of us all coming down with it while away from home, we decided to head home right away. We ended up spending 19 hours in Vegas but leaving early was the best possible decision as I was stricken with it almost as soon as we got home.
On another important front, in an effort to lose weight and after consulting with a metabolic endocrinologist, I decided to wean off the Prozac I’d been taking first to combat post-partum depression and then to control my perimenopausal hot-flashes. I was dealt some difficult truths during my consultation with her, mainly that I am genetically predisposed to holding on to excess weight, that given how much and how hard I work-out, the 1,200-1,400 calories I’d been consuming daily for the better part of a year had put my metabolism into a chronic state of starvation, and that I fell into the roughly 25% of the population for whom Prozac causes weight gain and the almost virtual impossibility of weight loss. In her estimation, a couple of things were going to have to change if I had any hope of shedding this weight: I needed to come off Prozac in favor of using low dose hormone replacement (estrogen and progesterone) to control my hot flashes and I needed to consume a diet high in protein (80-100g/day)/low in processed sugar/carbs and higher in overall calories. She told me that any chance I had at losing weight had to come before menopause as I am likely not going to be able to lose any significant weight post.
It took 2 menstrual cycles to add the hormone replacement and then one more month to wean off the prozac. I am ecstatic to report that I’ve not had one hot flash! And, I have been cleared to return to intermittent fasting (something my prior endocrinologist was against) and instead of 4:3 (four days of normal eating/3 days of fasting) like I did before, I’m going to attempt true ADF (alternate day fasting) with every other day being a fast day (500 calories). It takes some mental preparation as well as pantry/fridge prep to set myself up for success, so I’m not exactly sure when I will start, but soon, before the end of the year.
The bigger adjustment has been to my mental/emotional state. I underestimated the psychological benefits of being on a anti-depressant, so I am more moody, more snappish, more quick-tempered. I am at least aware that this is the case, magnified by perimenopause but somewhat tempered by the hormone replacement. PMS which had been non-existent for the last 2+ yrs, is back with a vengeance. I’m going to look into adding some supplements to stabilize my mood.
I did cut 12 inches of my hair off. It is now a short lob. I LOVE it and can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. Just recently, I cut it even shorter.
The boys are doing great. There is no shortage of joy, love, laughter, and gratitude in our home. We are gearing up for an epic Christmas and I am hosting Christmas breakfast for my entire family. We have been back in relationship with my parents for the better part of this year. It is arms (and heart’s) length, I have no expectations and (and have zero expectations) get a more peaceful/less stressful family dynamic with the extended family for the effort.
I am less than 5 months away from my 50th birthday. I have mixed emotions leaving my prolific 40s but am ready to embrace the next decade of my life. “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
~Louisa May Alcott
“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes,
rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart,
hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being,
faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself,
patience to accept the truth, love to complete your life.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
So much time between posts. I have just recently returned to active (almost daily) blog reading and commenting which has given me the bug to write something myself. I wish it were more meaningful than the updates I’m going to share, but I have been busy and that is worth noting.
In preparation for the Godzilla El Nino predicted for our region, we recently re-roofed our house. This was part of an overall project to lighten and therefore cool our house as much as one can with a roof and vents. The project was quite an expensive undertaking but we replaced the charcoal black composition shingles with a green grey and added 10 attic vents to allow the hot air to escape.
Once we re-roofed, we needed to repaint the exterior. Our single story, mid-century modern house was a dark, bluish-gray with black trim. Black trim is not in keeping with the genre of the house. We ended up going with white trim and a very light greenish-gray with an orange door! It is quite a change but we love it.
G is 2y9m and just started going to school 3 full days/wk. It was an easier transition than I thought it was going to be. He is such a trooper, amiable, adaptable. I am hoping that now that he has a regular schedule and that his brother is back in school (3rd grade!), that I can finally look for some means of gainful employment.
I had bronchitis which took me out for 3 weeks, 10 days of which were spent in bed with the most horrendous cough I’ve ever had. I returned to working out just over a week ago. It was rough. My lungs were shot, but now, a week later, I feel much better and am able to get through a work-out without getting winded.
In other news, I have been belaboring the idea of cutting my hair. My hair is the longest it has been since the 1990s. It is thick and healthy and aside from the gray which I color at home, is in great condition. I feel like I have been growing it forever. Since I have had a holy hard time losing weight, I guess I have felt that it camouflages me a bit. Before I get to my hair, though, let me talk about my weight. Despite my on-going best efforts (I’m eating carrots as I type this) to actually lose weight (20# of which I gained during the madness with my pituitary), I cannot lose even one pound. I am at my heaviest, non-pregnant weight. I joined a weight lost challenge where I work out (the winnings are $1,850!) and signed up for a medically supervised weight loss program through my insurance. I’ve changed what I eat and how much, but the scale WILL NOT BUDGE. Other than my infertility, it is the most frustrating health related problem I’ve faced. To work out at a high intensity 5 times a week, to have eliminated processed carbs in every form (except for a daily Quest bar I have as breakfast), sugar, red meat and to limit my calories to 1,200-1,400 day with no success has been demoralizing.
Back to my hair. Since it is so hot here and because I tend to run hot anyway, my very long hair is usually up in a pony-tail or twist to get it off my neck. I rarely blow it dry, much less style it, even though I cut long layers so that I could do so. As my attempts to lose weight are thwarted, I’ve been feeling like my hair is weighing me down, pulling me down, making me look heavier than I already am, if not older. Here is how long it is, past my bra strap:
This is the look I am going for at my appointment tomorrow (an a-line bob):
I’m nervous to cut it, mostly because I can’t style my hair worth a lick. I am lacking the girly gene that makes styling ones hair come naturally. A friend is joining me (who used to be a hair stylist) and between her and my stylist, I am hoping to walk out knowing what to do to make it look good. I need a change and look forward to the lightness of being that comes with cutting ones locks.
I’ve been diligently working on my 50 before 50 and my life is richer and more well-rounded because of it. I am happy and grateful and cognizant of the beautiful life, friends, and family I have. I feel so fortunate and try to extend myself where I can in ways that make a difference to others. Kindness, friends, is free.
This post continues to stand alone, as an on-going tribute not only to the accident that profoundly changed who I would become, but to my only brother, who I miss always and especially on this day.
Even though 38 years have passed, as soon as the calendar flips to August, I am transported back to that day, the day that forever changed the trajectory of my life. It always coincides with the heat of August. It was so hot that day.
I have moved through the grief and the survivor’s guilt while the pain of his loss lingers. I sometimes think how my life would have been. I suspect every single thing would have been different. I would not have become who I am, my relationship with my family would be entirely different had they not been broken by his death, I would have likely married earlier and someone else, I may have not had the career I had, or the sons and husband I have now. I can’t even conjure who that eleven year old girl would have grown up to be. She is a ghost.
And, my brother, too, is a ghost. He would have gotten married and I know he would have had children. He would have been such a great and proud uncle to my sons and our holidays would have been complete with him and his family present. But, he is forever frozen in time, a young teen-ager, taken too soon.
Even though my heart hangs heavy on this particular anniversary I am also reminded that I would likely not have the many gifts that make up the me that I am today. I wouldn’t have the love of horses that I do; I wouldn’t have the daily gratitude and profound respect for this one life I have to life; I would have never developed my resourcefulness, self-protection, compassion, or deep sense of self; I would have never become so self-reliant and independent which allowed me to embark on my successful and gratifying career in sales; I likely wouldn’t have switched elementary schools following the accident which means I would have probably gone to a different high school and college; I may have continued on to become a lawyer, which is what my parents wanted for me; I may have married young, even my college sweet heart and I would have had entirely different children; I would be an entirely different person walking around in this skin.
When I connect the dots from that tragic yesterday to my happy today, I am humbled by the knowledge that had things not unfolded as they did, I would not have my husband and we would not have our sons. Of course, I can never know what life with someone else and other children might have been like, but I do know that I love my boys, in my heart, in my soul, and in my bones.
And so, it is on this day, brother, a day where I miss you profoundly, that I say thank you. Your death was not in vain. I have tried to make the most of the second chance at life that I was given and I am utterly and completely grateful that it all led me to this life and to my family. My adorable, challenging, sweet, smart, spirited, loving, talented H and the almost always smiling, joyous, cherubic Baby G. You would love them and they you. I send a hug up and out through the universe to you. I love and miss you, brother.
Although you can’t be here with me, We’re truly not apart, Until the final breath I take, You’ll be living in my heart. ~Excerpted from a Bereavement Verse
The discriminatory stance that the Boy Scouts of America has taken against gays among their ranks has been a thorn in my side since I knew my first born would be a boy. Our position as parents, that our sons would not join a group that discriminates against gay boys or gay leaders, has been unpopular among our many friends who aren’t as passionate as we are about equal civil rights. I have been quite vocal at school meetings (where the scouts recruit boys), with my fellow mothers, on Facebook, etc. I’ve spoken to my gay friends and promised my solidarity regardless of the pressure. And, yes, as a result, we had to begin having conversations with our son two years ago about what it means to be inclusive and why joining the Cub-then-Boy-Scouts would not happen as long as they excluded gay boys and men.
It’s caused many a heated debate with otherwise decent friends because our not allowing our son to join caused problems of exclusion from events for him. But, I would not relent, and would not cave to their pressure.
Our most recent conversations have centered around how our older son would feel if the Boy Scouts (or any group) wouldn’t allow red-heads to join. Would he want to be a member of a group that his brother couldn’t be a part of. His answer was a resounding NO! It was easy, then, to draw the parallel between his brother’s red-hair, something he was born with, and someone’s sexual orientation, something they were born with. In this way, he is able to understand.
In May, the president of the BSA called for a lift on the ban of gay leaders but also said that he would not call for a vote on the matter during the remainder of his two year tenure. The story sort of died after that and just last week I asked my friends who have boys in the Scouts if they’d heard anything new, to which they replied, no.
So, imagine my surprise when one of those moms sent this to me yesterday. We are now one vote away from having the choice of becoming a Scout family, provided our local chapter also supports gays in leadership roles.
I will NOT abandon this space. Just knowing that it is here as a touchstone is comforting. I enjoy the writing process. I need a place to gather my thoughts and, frankly, I appreciate every single comment. I share things here that I can’t/won’t/don’t on FB or anywhere else. As the banner says, My place to vent, rant, share, and chart my course and that’s as true today as it was over 5 years and 525 published posts ago.
Yes, G is in his 4th week of part-time preschool. It was rough early on, for both of us. I made the comment that he and I are connected at the heart and leaving him there crying in the arms of his teacher made me physically sick throughout the time that we were apart. Yesterday was our first tear free drop-off. We’re both doing better. I can see him coming fully into his own independent self. It is a beautiful thing.
As for me, it’s been a rocky road with this pituitary thing. The hydrocortisone makes me hungry all the time. The transition to Effexor was a dismal failure (I was having at least four, 20 min hot flashes/day) and I’ve since transitioned back onto Prozac and BAM! no more hot flashes. It is such a relief. I feel a whole lot better overall, though, although I am at my highest post-pregnancy weight by 20#. It is demoralizing and frustrating and I do a fair degree of self-flagellating. My primary care doc said she’d refer me for bariatric surgery (I don’t technically qualify by pounds overweight or BMI, but am close) or to a medically supervised weight management program (Optifast) which I wholeheartedly do NOT believe in. I am >this< close to at least going to the bariatric consult. I have a conference call w my doc this week and I'll see what she has to say.
For my part, I work-out a lot, on average 5 times/week for an hour of hard full body conditioning/strength training/endurance/cardio. That said, the adage 'you can't work off of a bad diet' holds true. And, not bad, per se, just too much.
After more than a year of being in contact with my husband's birth-mother, we are now also in touch with his younger half-brother. This is all very new, only a couple of weeks old but it has been a lovely experience thus far. We've had great email communications and are friends on FB. I easily see an in-person meeting at some point. He and his family (wife, two young children (girl and boy) live in PA. There are a number of dynamics at play but my husband's birth mother has described her estrangement with her youngest son and let's just say he doesn't see it her way. It means I have to be careful managing both relationships. So, on my husband's mother's side, we're in touch with her, her oldest daughter and her youngest son. There is another son, older than my husband, who she describes as a 'loser' and I'm not quite sure what that means or why, but do know he has a daughter, that he abandon and that his sister adopted and raised.
And, in case you are wondering, there has been no further communication with my birth mother or any movement toward finding my birth father.
My 50th birthday is 10 mos away and my 50 before 50 is always top of mind. The list is somewhat fluid, evolving, and changing as my priorities and interests do, but it is roughly the same as it was in the beginning and I have made fairly good strides, especially with #s 1, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 31, 32, 34, 37, 39, 41, 45, 46, 48, 49, 50. That’s 34%
As it pertains to my facial rejuvenation, I am having monthly facials, had my first round of botox with round #2 scheduled along with some filler, and have my first chemical peel scheduled. Other than cleansing/moisturizing and the 1-2/yr facial, I have never focused on my face. There is something empowering in working toward looking my best self for myself. My weight plays a powerful part in how I view myself and as hard as I have worked with the opposite result than I’ve been working toward, doing what I can elsewise (<--- really should be a word) feels good.
G has been in speech therapy for almost a year. His progress has been steady and sometimes fast to the point where he is now caught up in all areas and ahead in some. He speaks in sentences, sometimes words not fully recognizable to those outside our family, and is a parrot, repeating back almost everything that is said to him. His little voice, with its affectations, completely melt me.
A few months ago his speech therapist recommended preschool, even on a part-time basis, as a way to support and further develop his speech. As it is, he spends almost all of his time around fluent talkers and it would be beneficial for him to be around children his age at the same level of speech development. We looked at several preschools, but were so late in touring/applying that there were no spots available this summer, let alone in the fall. I’d forgotten that admissions starts in January for the following year. We got on the wait-list at two preschools and I’ve kept in touch with the directors at both for months.
I got THE call a week ago that there was a space at one of the two schools we liked in their summer program. He will be starting tomorrow. As in TOMORROW, 18 hours from now! Just typing that and sharing that here makes me nauseous. He and I have been together every day of his life. And, while his older brother started preschool 4 mos earlier than G is starting, I was already back at work and my older son was such a handful that, as hard as it was, it was better for all of us that he get the structure of being at school.
With G, it is an entirely different situation. I’m not working. We spend almost every hour of every day together. And, whether that is playing at home, having a play date, going to the park, going to the Discovery Cube, going to the zoo, or running errands, he is with me, tethered by an invisible umbilical cord. Even though I don’t baby him, he IS my baby, my last child. This milestone, this rite of passage, seems the biggest and insurmountable of all other milestones combined.
Whereas our older son showed no real preference as a toddler to me or my husband, G’s preference has always been me. This is no fault of my husband who is the only other person that loves and cherishes him as much as me, it’s just that we are each others constant companion. Other than being in the care of occasional sitters, or being at home with my husband, he is always near me. I am the one to get him in the morning, I am the one he snuggles with while eating his banana, I am the one he snuggles with before nap, I am the one to get him from his nap, and I am the one he snuggles with before bed even though his daddy actually puts him down. The question my husband asks repeatedly is, ‘is he on you?’ and the answer is always yes.
And so it is with a proud yet heavy heart that we prepare to drop him for his first day of preschool tomorrow. We visited the school a few times last week, so he already knows the drill, walking through the gate, across the bike playground, up the ramp, through the second gate and across the yard to his room. He is a Bear (the theme of the summer program is Happy Trails and everything has something to do with nature). He already knows where the toys he likes to play with are.
I never thought it was possible to be joyful and sad at the same time, but it is. I love this little boy, my love for him expanding my love for my husband and older son. I am grateful to the depths of my soul for him, that he picked us as his parents and family, that he was our hail Mary pass, our last and final effort, our only remaining hope for having a second child, for completing our family.
My desire is to shelter him, keep him close and safe under my watchful eye, to have him always with me. But this is not about me; this is about him and allowing him to do something that is not only going to be fun, but so enriching for him. I love this school, the director, his teachers, the campus. He is going to get to do things we don’t often do at home. He is going to make his first friends. He is going to learn so many things from someone other than me, his daddy, or his brother. We are fortunate to be able to send him.
But, my heart. For all I went through to find my way to him, for all his being here did to heal my wounds from failure and heartache, can this time have really come? So soon? I know there is no way to stop time, there is no way to roll back the clock, there is no way to forever freeze every moment in the recesses of my mind. I also know that my love for him, my wanting the best for him requires me to do this for him. It feels so profound, so deep, causing such a cosmic shift in my psyche. Joy and sadness, sadness and joy.
G, my darling, amiable, sweet, good-natured, funny, charming, happy-go-lucky, trusting, adventuresome, smart little red-head, I love you as if you are my heart beating inside my chest. You did hang the moon my little one. I will miss you and count the hours until I pick you up, dusty and grimy and pink-faced from a morning hard at play. Yes, my little Mushy, you are going to have so much fun. For my part, I promise not to let you see me cry.
The results of my MRI were negative, meaning no tumor, no mass, no growth. This, of course, is good news, although it has made a treatment approach more difficult. I am into my second week of oral hydrocortisone which is supposed to counteract my low cortisol and make me feel better. A standard dose would be 15mg in the morning and 5mg in the evening but in an attempt to avoid the weight gain associated with taking hydrocortisone, I’m taking 5mg in the morning and 2.5mg in the afternoon. Honestly, I can’t feel any effect.
Because the Prozac I’ve been taking to control my hot flashes is also associated with weight gain, we decided I’d wean off it and see how I did. Within a day of cutting my dose in half, my hot flashes returned with a vengeance. So, I am trying Effexor which is a different form of anti-depressant also approved for hot flash management. My doctor started me on the lowest dose which did nothing to reduce or alleviate them. Yesterday, we doubled the dose and I need to give it a full seven days to see if this dose is effective. If not, we’ll either increase it again or I’ll go back to Prozac. I have been looking forward to the switch, though, not just because Effexor might aid in weight loss but because it doesn’t have the sexual side effects that Prozac does. And, truth, in just the 9 days I’ve been on it, I can feel my long dormant libido returning. Yay for that!
Generally, I feel thick headed, worse in the afternoons/evenings than in the mornings. I’m not really sure which medication is causing it and it probably wasn’t a good idea to add two new meds at the same time, but it is what it is. The hot flashes are merciless, so bad that I will sacrifice my libido and figure to get some relief.
In other and happier news, last week I celebrated my 49th birthday. I had a lovely sushi dinner out with my husband, and brunch the following morning with some close girlfriends. We’d gone to Palm Springs for Mother’s Day weekend, and it felt like a lot of celebrating but the right amount for a non-milestone birthday. Even though I am dealing with this new health issue, I feel good I am able to work-out regularly and hard, and continue to be fueled by gratitude for the life that I have. My older son will complete 2nd grade next week and G was 2y5m yesterday. Time is marching on despite my best attempts to freeze it.
I have officially begun my journey to 50, something I am looking forward to with gleeful anticipation. The two biggest hurdles I need to cross are to find day care for G and a paying job for me, neither of which are going to be easy (we are on wait lists at two preschools for any openings they may have and have nixed a handful of others for one reason or another. I have a few more to contact, but am late to the game for fall, 2015. Worst case he won’t be able to start until next summer and that is going to put us in a financial bind). I can’t diligently look for employment until we find consistent care for him.
I am going to start daily meditation. At the root of most of what ails me is too much stress, or an unsuitable reaction to how I manage stress. Another thing to add to the list of self-improvement