Now that G is down to one nap a day (and desirous of near constant attention/interaction otherwise) it is hard for me to find time to read my favorite blogs, much less comment, much much less find time to write myself. Oh, and then there’s Breaking Bad, which we started watching 4 weeks ago today. We have 4 episodes left in the entire series which we’re hoping to wrap up tonight.
We’re still waiting on the final investigative report which is pending the toxicology results on both men involved in what appears to be a murder-suicide involving my uncle and his neighbor. I made the very difficult but I believe right decision to not go to my dear friend’s wedding in Denver (for which I sought out about $1K in EMDR therapy in order to be able to fly to) in favor of going to the memorial being held the same weekend in Northern California. This side of my family is the only family I have a relationship with and I can’t imagine not going. So, we’re going to drive up there, all of us, and we’ll have friends watch the boys while we go to the service.
We are 4 weeks into speech therapy with G. The most notable change is an uptick in his babbling and the kinds of sounds he is making. He is also learning some basic signs (more, all done, I want) which is helpful. That he has been able to pick them up and use them correctly makes it even more baffling to me that he won’t/can’t say their corresponding word (or even try). He will repeat actions but not words.
I have continued incorporating the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle into my own. That essentially means that I no longer eat refined sugar or simple carbs and that I’ve reduced my intake of most processed foods to almost zero. I have grown accustomed to using stevia as a sweetener (mostly in my morning coffee along with a splash of heavy cream) and in other drinks and some baked goods. By and large I feel so much better. I have more energy, am less bloated, am sleeping better and my mood is stable. It has not, however, resulted in a significant change in my weight. I think this is because I am not eating my foods in the proper combination and that will come in time. Just to be off of artificial sweeteners (which began when I gave up Diet Coke many months ago) and off of white sugar and most simple/processed carbs is huge for me. I’m getting nutrition from sources I rarely if ever did before (cottage cheese, unsweetened almond milk, sprouted wheat bread, almond/oat flour, brown rice (if I have rice at all) cinnamon, turmeric, portobello mushrooms (as pizza crust) and zoodles (zucchini noodles).
We are heading to Portland over winter break and will likely make a second trip up in the early Spring. We’ve preliminarily decided to try to lease our home (you know, in case we do come back) and will, perhaps, lease up there for a year before buying (being in the right neighborhood for our family is THE most important decision and I am not sure that can be determined from Internet research and two trips there) although given that property values are likely only going to increase as people migrate there and that interest rates are still low, we may reconsider. We are going to treat it as an adventure, one that I hope improves our quality of life in many ways. We’ve been in an epic heat wave here, of late, with temps reaching 109 degrees yesterday (the record is 111 set in 2010) and remaining at 100 degrees even AFTER the sun went down. I was up a couple of times overnight to let the dog out and it never got below 83 degrees. EIGHTY-THREE degrees OVERNIGHT! It is triple digits again today. Oh, and we lost power for the second time in a week, yesterday. It is UGH at every turn, weather/water wise.
Nothing ever came to fruition with the concierge role I proposed to my RE. However, he just turned 50 and we’re going out to celebrate his birthday next week (with another mutual friend who is also a fertility acupuncturist who’s birthday is today) and it is my intention to see if I can’t make something (part-time, contract or even consulting) materialize. For now, that’s what I need, a part-time gig. I’ve also put my resume out to some staffing firms in the event my skills/expertise might come in handy on a consulting basis.
G is up from nap but I thank him for giving me the time to at least publish this.
Even though my birth mother conceived me in MA (presumably), I was born in LA and consider myself a die hard Southern Californian. Not only have I lived here my entire life, but I also attended college and grad school here. The only living family I have is strewn through the state.
Growing up, I heard things like “this is THE best place to live” and “why would anyone want to live anywhere else” and “anyone we know who’s moved has regretted it” and “it’s a privilege to live here because not everyone can afford to”. I have never, as in never ever, entertained moving elsewhere. Until now.
California is in the midst of a historic drought. The previously predicted El Nino event which could have brought epic rain, has all but evaporated and it will be surprising if we get any more rain (read: almost no rain) than we have in the last few years. Almost all communities are on voluntary water restrictions with some on mandatory. We can now even turn our egregious neighbors in where they’ll face a $500 per incident charge for violating the restrictions.
I have been feeling a degree of angst for a long time. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I knew it had to do with the estrangement from my family and this feeling of never being fully relaxed when out (or even home, for that matter) because who knows who I’ll run into. And, yes, my father popped by last week, unannounced, to deliver an errant piece of mail that went to our old house (we’ve been here 3 1/2 yrs and still some businesses (mainly the city we used to live in) can’t update their records). I was asleep, taking a rare nap because G had been up off/on the night before and I figured, when the doorbell rang, that it was a delivery. Oh, it was alright, just not the kind I was expecting. But, I digress.
I am not even sure how it came up, but my angst led me to ask my husband if he’d seriously considered living anywhere else. That led to a deeper conversation about our finances, me going back to work (out of necessity), the cost of living here (not only are property values high, but property taxes are 1.25%, and our older son is in private school because the public school system is still, um, broken, and G will have to go to private school, too, which means about 30K/yr in tuition ON TOP of our property taxes) but goods, including utilities, gas, and things to live, are higher now than they ever have been (and they were higher than most regions to begin with).
I said, with all seriousness, that we should consider moving, which shocked my husband to no end (he is still shocked and in a state of disbelief when we talk about operationalizing a plan) and the places that topped our list were Denver, Seattle, and Portland. After weeks and now months of research, I believe that we have narrowed it down to Portland, a place that I have never even visited (but we are planning an exploratory visit in November).
As surprised as anyone who knows me is when I casually mention, “we’re thinking of moving to Portland”, not one person has thought it was a bad idea. The lifestyle where we live, especially with young children, is just not sustainable as this part of So CA becomes more arid and dessert-like. It it hot here, a lot, so much so that we can’t enjoy our local parks because there isn’t enough shade and the equipment is too hot to be on. Add to that that the water restrictions have turned everything brown here, parks included, so they are not nearly as friendly a place as they once were. Our doors/windows and window coverings are closed and down/pulled all.the.time in an effort to keep the house cool. We run errands in the early morning hours or after the sun goes down. We take something to drink everywhere we go as it is so hot that we are all thirsty, the kids especially, something I never remember being as a kid living here.
But, at the forefront of my mind is the drought. I’m actually not sure what the plans, beyond conservation are (the county is giving lawn removal rebates of 3K to home owners who remove their lawn in favor of installing drought resistant landscapes). I do know one thing, as this drought is likely to continue, we have to move while we can still get top dollar for our home. Oh, and I know one other thing, we can’t live without water.
The kicker came during my last therapy session when I was sharing with my therapist my desire to move, to allow for a different life for my boys and for me (if my husband could transfer with his employer AND if we sell our house, I could continue to be a SAHM whether we buy or rent in Portland) and because it is just exceedingly difficult to live here, yes because of the drought and heat, but there was something else with the estrangement from my family, that I just couldn’t put my finger on. And she, quite astutely said, ‘you want the physical distance to match the emotional distance’. BINGO! Pass GO and please collect $200! That, my friends, is it. It is incongruent to me to live within a few miles of my family yet to have no relationship with or to them. And, that causes me distress.
My uncle’s murder reminded me that we have this one life. He awoke that morning like he did many mornings before, and went outside to do some gardening. Little did he know it was the last thing he would ever do. I don’t want to live my life, our lives indoors because of the heat and constantly being on guard because I might run into my mom or dad or sister or her husband.
If the opportunity exists to create a different life, even where it rains 40″ a year, I want to explore it. And that we shall.
PS I found this helpful in making Portland our #1 choice and in making me feel that it is the right next move for us.
There are no easy words that flow when a family member is murdered.
It happened on Wednesday, on a warm afternoon while he was gardening in his backyard. His neighbor entered through a gate that adjoined their yards and shot him from behind, returned to his property and killed himself with the same rifle. He likely never saw or even heard it coming. He was my uncle, by marriage, a kind, gentle, easy going musician, husband, father, and grandfather.
There is no way to make sense of the senseless, an act of violence so horrific that I wake up in disbelief every morning.
This has rocked their calm, safe, idyllic neighborhood. As news gets out, tributes come in. I’ve not spoken directly to my aunt (his wife). The investigation is on-going, their home is a crime scene, and the media has descended upon it waiting for her return home. How exactly does one return home when you and your son find your husband and his father slumped over in the yard, killed doing something he enjoyed? How?
This was the front page of SFGate yesterday and contains some lovely words about a man who will be missed by many.
What to say? Staring at the blinking cursor against a stark white screen and hoping to put words to feelings.
The suicide of Robin Williams hit me hard. Yes, I’ve been a fan since before his debut on Mork & Mindy. That show defined my youth. And, after, I recorded every single Comic Relief Special he hosted and watched them over and over, mesmerized by his genius. And then there were the movies, way too many to recount, but among my favorites are Good Morning Vietnam, The Fisher King, Dead Poets Society, and Good Will Hunting.
It’s been 10 days since news of his death cross my life. I have been in a fog ever since, moving through but not living my life. With more than a hint of concern, my husband asked me, “why do you think his death has hit you so hard? I mean, a lot of people have died”. Why, oh why, indeed.
It isn’t because I was a life long fan. It wasn’t even because I visited and fell in love with Tiburon. Nor was it because we drove by and parked in front of his home, me in awe that he lived in California, right there!
It was because, for the first time in my life, I could relate to that level of darkness and it both hurt and scared me. To know that this man, who brought joy and laughter to a cadre of people the world over, with access to every resource possible to treat his addiction and depression, and surrounded by the love and affection of close family and friends, couldn’t see another way but to end his life? What does that say for the rest of us?
And, of course, as the malaise got worse and as I was not leaving the house and sleeping a lot and often, I worried that I was spiraling into the deep abyss myself. I kept thinking I was going to snap out of it, come around, get over it already. And, with each passing day, 10 of them to be exact, that didn’t happen. I didn’t want to eat or attend to anything, just get through the day in one piece so that I could go back to sleep.
But, you know what? I wasn’t spiraling into anything. It was a natural response to an unnatural act. Like his legions of fans, it made me very sad, that he would decide to take his life in such a horrific way. The echo of darkness of that depth of aloneness continues to reverberate and, well, how could I help but be moved? I learned something else about myself: I never allow myself to just be in it. I’m always trying to come around, put an end to it, try to get on with things. And, some times some things can’t just be gotten on with.
His death has taught be a valuable lesson about my life: it is OK to feel and sit and live with those feelings for as long as it takes. I don’t have to shove my feelings aside and put on a happy face. That might have been required of me as a child, but certainly not so as an adult. Some things just take as long as they take and that has to be OK. Relating to the plight of another doesn’t doom me to the same fate. It just makes me deeply human.
I have been championing a greater level of kindness and courtesy in my own life. It is one part of the human experience that I feel is missing in our day to day interactions with each other; just even noticing the other human beings who cross our paths let alone reaching out to those who are vulnerable in our own lives. I would HOPE that someone would do that for me.
May your heart, mind, body and soul be at peace, now, Robin Williams, and thank you for all that you meant to this world and to this fan. I am sorry that you left us too soon and that you were alone in doing so. May each of us affected by your passing make a point to connect, really reach out and listen to those we love, because without that human connection tethering us to this world, what is there?
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 37 years have now 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
Thank you for your comments regarding birth control. One of the reasons I love this space so much is that those who are inclined to comment have the opportunity to change my life. Do you know that it never occurred to me that my husband could have a vasectomy? Never, in our 15 years together had we ever discussed it, even in passing. And, not for any good reason, it just never came up. So, I asked him if he would consider it, and of course he would, so he has a consult set up for the end of this month.
And, it can’t come soon enough because I began thinking that I might be pregnant. From some mid-cycle spotting (implantation bleeding I reasoned) to uterine cramping and twinges to the same sort of uterine heaviness I felt early on in my pregnancies, I was sure that I must be. I started to panic a bit (in the oh-my-gawd-this-cant-be-happening) kind of way. I had visions of posting a positive HPT here. I scoured our bathroom thinking there must be one HPT in this house. So, even though my period isn’t late yet, I did go out and buy a box of 3, the first of which is decidedly snow white. I am relieved, to say the least and now the pendulum has swung in the completely opposite direction where of course I’m not pregnant and how could I have even thought it. (We all know the cycle of “am I?” “no, I’m not” that comes with ART and in the 19 mos that G has been alive, I’ve never ever thought I was. How easy to fall back into old patterns.)
I didn’t report here that I had another bout of pericarditis. It came on suddenly (as in, I took a short afternoon nap and woke up with it) about a month ago. And, with it, I’d become a “case” of a different sort as pericarditis is rare enough in women but it’s even rarer that it would recur and rarer still that it would recur 3 mos after my last bout. There was much discussion and consultation, again, and this time with the head of cardiology. It is caused by a virus. My pericadium is vulnerable now. There isn’t anything to be done to prevent it, per se, except be vigilant in not coming down with viruses in the first place. However, we have come up with a better treatment plan should it recur again (and that is likely).
I had two lingering questions: 1-does the recurrence of this increase my risk for heart attack? No. And, 2-is there any reason to believe that this recurrent condition would affect my life expectancy? No. It was hard to have to think of such things as a vibrant 48 yr old woman and mother to two young children, but they wore heavy on me and had to be asked.
I had another break-through in EMDR therapy. We were discussing when, in considering flying now, do I begin to get anxious. And, just the thought of saying good-bye to my husband and kids (whether it be here at the house or at the airport) brought me to tears. So, we did some work around that and what I discovered was that my concern wasn’t that I was going to die on this trip it was that my husband was going to have to manage all facets of life at home with our two sons when I was gone and I was worried about that. Not that I don’t trust him or that he’s not an attentive father but that to this point he’s never been home alone with both boys, needing to manage their complete care for more than a 2-3 hr window, ever. And, all these hot car deaths had gotten into my psyche and I could see how easily he could become distracted and leave G in the car (or something equally disastrous). Once we’d identified the source of my anxiety, I knew that one way to alleviate it would be to make sure he has some help when I am gone. And, of course, I talked to him about it. Not in an accusatory way at all, but that it was feeding into my anxiety. He, of course, assured me that he wasn’t concerned about it in the least, but if making sure he had some help made me feel better, OK. One of the many reasons I love my husband (did I mention the vasectomy?)
I have therapy again this week, but I can honestly say, without any anxiety, that I am going to be able to make this trip in October, by myself, on a plane. I just know I am. I’m not there, yet, but I am closer than I have ever been. And, this is HUGE as this phobia has afflicted and shackled me for almost 3 decades! It has stymied many a trip and caused me unnecessary tears, hysterics, and histrionics. Other than pursuing all options for having a second child, this will be the biggest gift I’ve ever given myself. You.have.no.idea.
Finally, I am embarking on an entirely new eating life style. I can’t even recall how I came upon this plan, but I did. I was intrigued enough by stories of weight loss successes and improvements in overall health that I joined a FB group and lurked for a year. I didn’t want to actually buy the book or implement the plan because there is an underlying Christian component and nothing turns me off more than bible banging. Yet, I still read and lurked and wondered how the plan worked (and it did, for all manner of people, at all ages, with all sorts of underlying and chronic health conditions and it seemed a livable plan if I could only understand it which required me to buy a $35 , 610! page book, which I did, but not until after reaching out directly to one of the authors (sisters) to feel out whether a non-religious woman could embrace the plan and be embraced by the community. She wrote me back almost immediately and I was so touched by her response that I decided to go for it).
As this post is long enough as it is, I’ll link to the plan here and follow-up again as I continue to implement its practices. It is involved and includes a bit of food combining (not in the 1980s way) but I think the premise is spot on: eliminate refined sugar and simple carbohydrates, eat every three hours, have protein at every meal, and vary the fuel source, whether it be complex carbohydrates or fats but don’t eat protein/carbohydrates/and fats together and definitely not carbs/fats together alone, try not to spike your blood sugar as to keep insulin stable. There are dozens of recipes in the book and literally thousands on Pinterest and blogs along with meal plans.
I do find some irony in an atheist doing a Christian eating plan, but, that’s life.
**This post may be TMI (especially if you know me IRL), so, you’ve been warned**
Facts: I’m 48. I’m perimenopausal. I’m hypothyroid. I’m on ADs. I’m infertile. I have an active sex life now, although inconsistently so (this alone is a HUGE improvement over the drought I was in, so, YAY). I.am.not.on.birth.control.
That last pesky fact had eluded me, until yesterday when I had copious amounts of EWCM and my next thought was, ‘oh, shit’. Now, I’m not an alarmist and I am not going to report in this post that I am pregnant, but it has occurred to me, that even with the above list, there is the infinitesimal chance that because of that last fact, I could, in fact, become pregnant.
It might seem laughable to some that this actually just dawned on me. You see, when you are not having sex and you are all of those other things, it isn’t even in your consciousness, so much so, that once you return to an active sex life, it takes something like EWCM to jar your consciousness enough to remember that sperm lives up to 5 days in a welcoming environment and, well, missy, you better figure something out.
I sold my fertility monitor a long time ago and, while I do track my cycles in an app, it’s only so that I know when to expect my next period (because they were so horrendous, I needed fair warning, although that has improved). Even though I spent most of my marriage having sex to procreate and was very aware of my ‘peak’ fertile days and my BBT and my CM, since having Baby G and being in a long term sexual drought, once we finally returned to having sex, it NEVER crossed my mind that we may want to, you know, take precautions. It is as if all those years of planning and tracking and monitoring and knowing when/not to have sex optimally to conceive flew right out of my mind in the intervening months since G was born.
In fact, even as recently as three months ago I was coaching a friend, who got married and just turned 40, as to how to increase her odds of getting pregnant and, wouldn’t you know, she did conceive her first month trying (she, unfortunately miscarried after seeing the heart beat which has been very hard on her, but, she will be ready to try again next month). So, it’s not like its not on my mind at all. Yet, I just forgot that the rules apply to me, too.
So, I’m ignoring the post ovulation uterine cramping I’m feeling by writing here, but it isn’t lost on me that, yes, I could get pregnant and since that is not in our family plan, I need to take some judicious steps toward preventing that as ludicrous as that seems to me. I have been around long enough to see this scenario played out in the lives of fertile and infertile friends alike, who had completed their families, and, well, oops, found themselves pregnant with #3 or #4 (or, in one case, #5) at 43, 45, 47. So, while it is not likely to happen, it could, and I am all about managing risk.
I actually am not sure what to do. I did not tolerate any of the BCPs I tried post partum or even the ones I tried to regulate my horrendous periods when they returned. And, once we were relatively sure I was in perimenopause and given that I wasn’t yet having sex, it just didn’t occur to me that it was something that needed to be revisited. I cannot be the only one. Am I?
What was recommended was to get an IUD and I have some friends who have, but, seriously, me? Now? That just seems, well, overkill and laughable. I mean, really. My inclination, now that I have snapped out of it, is to just avoid having intercourse during any fertile period of my monthly cycle. But, my last period was 5 days early, so that is not reliable. My husband works where condoms of every sort (and, yes, I mean every) are offered in bowls throughout the office), but, really, condoms? Ick.
Now I am really pissed that the tubal ligation I consented to having during my c-section couldn’t be performed because my OB couldn’t discern fallopian tube from ligament and that alone has probably put my odds for natural, spontaneous conception at zero. But, there is that pesky word, probably.
So, it’s a conundrum that I hadn’t considered and I don’t like my choices (but do like having sex). So, there.