Thursday, March 13, 2014

On becoming 4.

So you'd think this would be easy. The whole adding another human thing. Considering I've done it once, you'd think I'd know what I was doing. That I paved the road the first time. Set myself a path; maybe tramping down the grass as I walked the journey the first time so I could follow it with a little less struggle the second time. Makes sense right?

But there's a catch. The catch is the whole stereotypical saying that no two journeys are the same. In this instance, it sucks because it's totally dead on. That trampled down path in the grass that I laid out the first time might as well be in the freaking African savanna because I sure as heck am now wading through a bug infested rainforest on a completely different continent.

Yet there are some similarities. I do know that a journey is a journey no matter where it occurs. I learned from the African savanna that I should be more flexible, that there is always going to be an animal out there that's going to attempt to eat you, and that you can never have too much sleep and chocolate. These things can all be applied to the rainforest, and maybe help me to casually swing amongst the trees instead of dragging through the bog.

So what do you do with two? How do you love them separately? I know I do. But I can't describe how. I have this recurring nightmare where a disaster occurs and I can't save both of them, I have to pick one. I wake up sweating and crying because what the heck? How would I do that? I couldn't. Could I choose both and just not be saved myself? Is that an option? Am I crazy for even asking a dream questions? Yes.

I'm observing, always observing. Watching siblings who are adults and very close. What did their parents do to make them that way? How can I do that? What makes some siblings become lifelong friends and others drift apart once they reach adulthood? I want that security, that anchor of home.

Becoming 4 was easy, yet blows my mind on a daily basis. Hello savanna. Hello rainforest. Goodbye map. I'll find my way around these parts because I have a feeling what I need to find is not within any clear cut boundaries.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Here we go again!

The difference between Liam's birth and Declan's birth is like night and day. Don't get me wrong, Liam's birth was textbook perfect as far as a birth goes, and I was able to deliver him completely drug free like I wanted. But something was missing. I had a midwife instead of an OB, but the midwife was within an OB practice and a bit more medically focused than I would like for a process that, to me, is perfectly normal and doesn't require medical intervention in most cases. I wanted a home birth or at least to deliver in a birth center, but all the birth centers in AZ had been shut down due to politics, and our insurance at the time ruled out a homebirth. So hospital it was, and I put all my faith into my midwife to let me have the birth I wanted to have.

She let me down. Liam was healthy and the whole process went seamlessly, so I am grateful for that. But I still felt like an experience had been stolen from me, and that I had failed in some way because I ended up being held down on a bed while pushing for over an hour, despite me telling them in advance I didn't want to deliver on my back (hello, who wants to fight gravity??). My body felt broken afterwards. I was exhausted. I was bullied 24/7 by the nurses after I delivered, trying to convince me to give Liam formula because it was "easier". Trying to convince me to let the pediatrician circumcise him even though we had chosen not to cut off a piece of our child's body without his consent and risk his health for cosmetic purposes. Making me feel like everything I *knew* was so right, was actually so wrong. I left that hospital feeling defeated and tired instead of pumped and elated. When we decided it was time to add another hellion to the family back in December, I was determined things would be different as soon as I got those two pink lines on the stick.

I found a birth center just across the border in SC, and immediately fell in love with my midwife. The entire pregnancy was perfect aside from some of the standard puking the first few months. We didn't find out the gender purposely; we decided it would be more fun to wonder and to have that surprise to look forward to. 2 weeks before my due date I got a phone call from my midwife. The birth center was temporarily shut down due to a tangled web of politics and I was not going to be able to deliver there. So here I was, about to give birth at any time and completely back at square one.

After feeling sorry for myself for a few days, I picked myself up by my bootstraps and thought to myself, screw this shit. I'm going balls to the wall and doing what I wanted to do this whole time. This kid is being born at home. No more drama, no more fighting for something that should happen naturally. I'm a healthy low risk chick with a healthy baby. We're gonna do this.

I worked Thursday and Friday and damn, I worked. Our floor had been getting increasingly nutty by the week and two straight days of running around, not sitting, and doing heavy lifting wore me out. Saturday morning, September 14th, I woke up feeling kind of crampy. I chalked it up to working the last two days and maybe overdoing it. My due date was still 2 weeks away. I got up, got breakfast and sat around. The random crampiness didn't go away. In fact, it was getting more noticeable. It didn't really hurt, and I can't really describe it other than weird. I know that sounds stupid since I'd been through the labor process before, but with Liam I had no signs of anything and my water sporadically busted on the couch, followed by Mack truck contractions that didn't stop till he came out. This was nothing like that, so I thought nothing of it. I decide to take Liam to the park. We hung out for a few hours and the tightening/cramping continued. I had a couple people ask me when I was due and I was tempted to be like, "well maybe right now but I'm not sure". I texted my mom, who was with my dad camping about an hour away. I didn't want them to come back for nothing and me feel bad, but I kind of wanted to give her a heads up. On the drive home, they started getting closer together. I put Liam down for a nap around 1:30. Ate lunch, paid some bills. Liam woke up around 4 and the cramping was actually getting to a point where I had to stop what I was doing and shut my eyes. I texted the midwife:

4:45pm: "I'm having a lot of cramping, but it's sporadic so I don't know..probably false labor…"

5:22pm: "Nevermind, this shit is real"

She arrived and they were pretty intense...Liam was laughing and copying me as I moaned and swayed back and forth while leaning over whatever was near me as I paced upstairs (washer, banister, bed). Shaun texted my mom to tell her they better pack up. I told him to tell them not to rush, I figured I had at least another 5-6 hours. We joked around and played with Liam in the playroom, then when I had a contraction I would bury my face in the futon and she would quietly take notes in the corner. Every once and awhile she would check the baby's heart rate with the Doppler. Two other midwives arrived around then, and Liam was in heaven having all these people playing trains with him. Shaun went downstairs and cleaned the kitchen...guess he figured with the amount of work I was doing at the moment the least he could do was the dishes. Haha. After awhile they asked if I wanted to get in the tub. For some reason it hadn't even occurred to me even though my plan the whole pregnancy was to have a waterbirth. Into the tub I went. Liam at this point had apparently breezed through med school and had taken upon himself to be the resident OB. He stripped off his shirt and sang Spiderman songs to me while pouring water on my back during contractions. He did the Doppler (correctly!) for the midwives. He made fun of my quiet moans. The whole thing wasn't scary to him at all...I had prepared for one of the midwives and Shaun to keep him downstairs but apparently that was all for nothing.

Within about 10 minutes I was getting way too hot and both my and the baby's heart rate were jumping up. I got out and tried to cool down. I sat on the big yoga ball next to my bed and watched Liam do gymnastics on the mattress. I remember thinking to myself during a contraction that I had hours more of this so I hoped I could keep my current calm state of mind and sense of humor. Right about then I decided I had to go to the bathroom. I said it out loud and started to get up to walk to the toilet. The midwife said, "No. Come over here and grip the footboard and pop a squat for me on the floor". I looked at her like she was nuts. Um, no, I am not pooping on the floor in front of people. I said as much, and I got the look of death, lol. She convinced me to just try to attempt the position for her and she promised I wouldn't go to the bathroom on the floor. I was annoyed but did as she said.

Suddenly the urge was so unbelievably overwhelming that I wanted desperately to run to the bathroom but I was literally frozen in place. My body began to attempt to push on it's own, and I remember yelling out loud that I was "puking in reverse". Everyone laughed but I was about ready to cry, mortified that I was going to poop in front of everyone. Then the floodgates opened and my water literally exploded all over the floor. I felt like a deflated balloon. Suddenly I felt this god awful burning and before I could register what it was, Liam leaped out of Shaun's arms yelling, "My baby!! Wook!! It's my baby!! I'm a big brother now mama!!!". Then I felt this immense sensation of pressure relief and I looked down to see a face peering up at me. The midwife was fending off Liam, who was trying to get to the baby, and Shaun was just standing there with a look of shock. Holy shit. I just had a baby. And all I had wanted to do was go to the bathroom.

His cord was short so I couldn't lift him up to my chest till the placenta came out. When it did, I began to bleed quite a bit due to the short cord getting yanked at some point and tearing the placenta away from the uterine wall, causing a bit of hemorrhage. The midwife gave me some Cytotec and the bleeding let up immediately (and caused horrible god awful contractions but they were necessary to stop the bleeding). Liam cut the cord with some help from Shaun and we finally noticed we had another boy.

I took a quick shower and parked myself in bed with new baby.

At that point my parents arrived. Sorry guys, too late. By 15 minutes! The midwife had arrived at 5:30pm, and he was out at 7:19pm. He was weighed (7lbs 5oz), measured (20 in), and examined.

Shaun won the name battle and Declan received his name. We all hung out for another 4 hours (midwives wanted to make sure I didn't bleed again), ate fish tacos Shaun and my dad whipped up, and went to bed. The next day we woke up like any other day. It was perfect and comfortable and easier than I ever could have asked for. I was so comfortable in my own space that I didn't even realize I was in labor till it was almost over. What more could you ask for?

And that's the story of Declan's journey Earthside.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

He's not mine, I swear.

You know how when your kids get older, they want you to stay away from them in public so you don't embarrass them? I distinctly remember wanting my mom to park at the VERY end of the pick up line when I was a freshman in high school because she was always singing and dancing in the car while waiting and I was paranoid someone would see. Because obviously your life is ruined if you mom sings Hootie and the Blowfish, right? Well the more experience I have with raising a kid, the more gung ho I am about making your kids deal with your embarrassing habits and suck it up, because guess what? It is sweet sweet revenge. Revenge for the millions of times they embarrassed you in public when they were younger. Unfortunately you don't have the option of telling your two year old to go to the opposite end of the check out line so no one will know he is yours. Therefore, when he turns 16, he can't pretend you are not his.

In the last month alone I can count three times I wanted to do a combination of melting into an invisible puddle and laughing hysterically. Two instances happened today. The first was a few months ago. We were strolling through the mall and an older lady was walking towards us dressed head to toe in yellow. I'm talking BRIGHT yellow. A complete pants suit. With yellow heels and a yellow hat. She was also very, uh, sturdy, and easily towered over me. For one reason or another, she decided to say hi to Liam. Liam is usually very outgoing and will immediately put his hand on his chest and say, "Me Liam", caveman style. This time he started screaming, clinging to my leg and yelling, "Wook! Help mama! Big bad banana!!!". People were staring, because he was screaming like someone was pinching him. The Bad Banana Lady gave us the dirtiest look I've seen in awhile and stormed past us. Liam, relieved, let go of my leg and said, "Whew, all gone."

The next two were today at Costco. We were walking to get eggs when a woman on one of those motorized scooter things whizzed by us. Liam yelled very loudly, "Wook! It's the big sick lady on Wall-E!". Apparently she very much resembled one of the boneless meal drinking people on the hovercraft things on Wall-E. He would NOT stop talking about it and of course she happened to be on every aisle we needed to go down. I was very relieved when we finally got to the check out line. Liam likes to push the cart onto one side of the register while I stand on the other to pay. The woman boxing things up was talking to him and he was chattering away. Suddenly, I hear him go "Wook! HAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!" in his crazy little laugh. My heart sank because I know that laugh. That is the laugh of his latest and greatest joke he's picked up since potty training. I've been doing my best to ignore it in hopes he would stop and never do it in public but obviously that didn't work. I meekly peered over the register to find my son standing with his hands on his hips, front of his waistband pulled down and tucked so he was dangling out for all to see. "Wook! Peeking!!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!". I silently vowed to kill Shaun for laughing the first time he ever did that, because if he hadn't, maybe this public display of two year old glory wouldn't be happening. I don't think I've ever moved around a register so fast, but I'm pretty sure he was only exposed to air for maybe 5 seconds before I grabbed him. Fortunately the bagger had two boys of her own and didn't seem too traumatized, but I'd be lying if I'm not considering making my kid wear diapers again.

Wish me luck because when he wakes up, we have to go to Target. Sigh.

Monday, October 22, 2012

You can all go to hell.

I don't think I've been this worked up or frustrated with shit beyond my control in a very very long time.

Our washer broke in September. After spending several days just trying to find a repair place that would even work on an LG (seriously? It's not like it's some obscure brand) we had someone come out. He looked at it for a bit and said while he didn't have the tool to take off the very bottom of the machine (wtf?) that a plastic coupling under the drum was completely stripped down and that was what was causing the grinding sound. He left and placed an order for the part on the 18th. I called. And called. And called. Still no part. They told me it was backordered to October 5th. October 6th rolled around and they changed the date to the 13th. I called LG to complain about their parts and they called the supply company and confirmed the date of the 13th, then gave me the direct number to the supply company they ship to and an offer of an extended warranty since mine was expired in July for being past a year since purchase. The 13th rolled around and of course the backorder date was pushed to the 19th. I called LG again and told them I was no longer interested in waiting for a part that would probably not actually come in on the 19th, and they told me I could submit a request for a replacement/return. So I drove to the repair place and got a copy of the workorder and drove to Best Buy to have them print out a proof of purchase, both required by LG to process the request. Submitted it and heard nothing. Called the supply company and sure enough, the part has been backordered again to November 1st. Called LG and despite telling them I refuse to wait anymore, they simply sounded bored and told me sorry, I just need to wait for the right department to process my request. So let me get this straight, even if I wait, and they agree to replace the machine…how long will the process take? "I'm sorry ma'am, I can't answer that". Well, fuck. I'm off the next 4 days. I want a freaking functioning washing machine IN MY HOUSE BEFORE I GO BACK TO WORK. And at this point I don't even want a damn LG because god forbid I ever go through this again.

Direct TV hasn't been working right for 2 weeks. The additional channels like Disney and Discovery and whatnot are fine, but the local basic channels are all pixelated and stupid. I call, and they tell me that's a problem with the broadcast, not with them. That there have been some issues with the local stations and those responsible for it (of course, not Direct TV) are working to fix it. But for $50, they will come out and see if they can fix anything. Uh, first off, my signal says it's at 98%. There is nothing wrong with my dish. Secondly, why the fuck would I PAY YOU to come out here and fix YOUR PROBLEM? Are you kidding me???? I threaten to cancel, they say there will be a $150 fee. I cuss, and hang up. So here we are with pixelated PBS and baseball/football games.

My insurance company is refusing to cover the cost ($1200) of a heart monitor I wore. The freaking cardiologist is located IN THE HOSPITAL I WORK AT, WHICH HAS IT'S OWN INSURANCE THAT I AM COVERED BY. Christ, is it really this difficult? They want letters from the doctor that state why I needed to use that specific monitor and not a holter or king of hearts (um, because you can't wear those for weeks at a time??) and why they should consider it in-network. Did that, and get a denial letter stating they are rejecting my appeal because the monitor is out of net work. Well no SHIT, that's why I appealed it in the first place. So I'm submitting a second appeal while I continue to get this $1200 bill in the mail with late fee threats from the stupid heart monitor company. If I knew I was going to be dealing with this, I never would have gone to the doctor in the first place. Because dealing with all this shit is giving me more of an arrhythmia than I had in the first place.

I'm so tired of being the little person. I hate big companies. I hate being controlled. And I hate that we have no choice any more. I tried to be good and go through a small family owned appliance repair place but I still get burned because they have to order the parts through the big guy. I can't win. And I'm slowly discovering that in this society, you never will.

Homesteading, here we come.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sorry ma'am, they're just trying to have you die more slowly.

So, surprisingly, the worst thing about nursing is not the stress, smells, torture, early mornings, late nights, no lunches, thrown out backs, ruined bladders, and continuous stress ulcers.

No, the worst thing about nursing is the denial. The denial that life ends. We all know it, and we all seem to accept it…until we walk through hospital doors apparently.

It's amazing the number of people I care for who are being kept alive with no dignity, no comfort, and no respect. Every day I have elderly people in bed, basically unresponsive, with tube feedings going because they can't eat, catheters in their bladder and butt because they are incontinent, central lines because they are an impossible stick for a peripheral IV, high flow oxygen because their lungs are weak or full of fluid, skin breaking down because despite our frequent turning and repositioning, it's super fragile and just can't take the constant pressure and friction, and ten thousand medications to crush and force into their body because everything is breaking down and by god, we will make it work with these pills!

Only it's not breaking down. It's naturally declining because guess what? WE ARE NOT IMMORTAL. Sure, there are things we can do to slow down the process, or make it happen a bit more gracefully and comfortably. And that's fine. But I really don't think tubes from every orifice of your body, constant needles, and complete loss of dignity are within the realm of comfort and grace.

You can say all you want, "Oh well, my family knows that if I get to that point, they need to let me go". In response, I will laugh in your face because I guarantee you 90% of the patients on my floor once said the same thing and now guess what? They have not been let go. And when they code, I am smashing them to smithereens while doing chest compressions, then replaying the gruesome scene over and over and over in my nightmares when I get home.

Only I got lucky last week and I had Mrs. O. Mrs. O was a few short years from being 100. I walked in the room and this little lady had a massive toothless grin for me that made my morning grump melt away. Her wild and wispy white hair was a perfect accessory to her laugh lines and wrinkles around her bright blue eyes. Every time I walked in the room, she had that smile. Sometimes she knew where she was, sometimes she didn't. But every time she would grab my hand and squeeze it, and more than once she cupped my face and told me she wanted to take me home. Um, no Mrs. O, I want to take YOU home! Her family showed me a picture of her from the week prior, standing in the kitchen holding her great grandbaby. Apparently the confusion and frailty was sudden, and surely she would bounce back and be her same self after a few days of IV antibiotics.

Yesterday I came back to work after the weekend. I was happy to see Mrs. O on my assignment list, but surprised she hadn't gone home. When I walked in, I saw why. This wispy, bubbly lady had become a gaunt, sleepy shell. She wouldn't swallow water, and would no longer squeeze my hand. The only indication that she was the same lady was the random smile she would flash in her sleep, her personality clearly showing through the veil of fading life. Yet her daughter continued to talk and walk about the room as if nothing had changed. She left for work like every other day, telling me she would be back that evening.

Mrs. O's breathing got more and more labored, and she became less and less responsive. I wheeled her outside in her bed to see the sun set for the last time at the family's request. Her family put flowers in her hair and sat out for a long time while I went back upstairs to take care of my other patients. When they came back up, the environment in the room became more peaceful, more accepting. And Mrs. O continued to sleep.

When I left for the evening, the daughter hugged me crying and said she'd see me Thursday when I come back for my next shift. I know that isn't true, and I won't see her on Thursday. I just nod, squeeze Mrs. O's hand, touch her crazy white wispies, and walk out the door.

Everyone deserves to be Mrs. O. Everyone deserves that love, that dignity, and that respect. That acceptance. That trust that Life knows what it's doing, and we truly do not have control. And every nurse deserves to experience what I did…because we all know it's few and far between outside of hospice. We deserve to be able to actually put to use the one thing that made us become nurses in the first place: celebrate life- beginning, middle, and end.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The fallen Viking.

Usually I don't most too much about every day stuff like haircuts…mostly because I lack the talent to make them sound truly interesting. But I figure this deserves it's own post.

The Viking helmet, aka Liam's hair, is (was) pretty long. There are tons of reasons we've never cut it, but mostly it's because he's active so I knew he'd hate to sit and have it done and around here we have to pick our battles. Long hair doesn't hurt anyone, so if it's one less thing I have to battle him on then whatever. Another reason is because he likes his hair and every time we'd ask him if we could cut it like Daddy's hair, he'd say no. It's his hair, so I left it alone. Lastly, I'm a stickler for gender stereotypes. It pisses me off when people tell their boys they can't play with dolls or play dress up or have long hair. Liam frequently dresses like a duck and rocks his "baby" (yeah, it's a firetruck with a pacifier taped to it but hey, whatever he wants his baby to be is fine with me). He would be dressed in total "boy" attire (blue shirt with trucks, jeans, blue sandals) and people would still refer to him as a girl. I remember standing in line at the store and the check out lady was going on and on about how adorable "she" is. The guy behind us was a tall dude with a pony tail. As we left, she said, "Hi sir, how are you today?". Um, why can he have long hair and be masculine but Liam has to be an adorable little girl? Gets on my nerves. Not the fact that people think he looks girly, but the fact that toddlers have to have labels and look a certain way. They're toddlers! Jeez.

Anyway, now it's to a point that it is getting wrapped around his teething necklace and ripping and hurting him. He hates having his hair washed and making sure it all gets scrubbed was cumbersome. Finally the other day I asked him if he wanted to go to a place with trains and airplanes and get his hair trimmed. He said yes, so today we went.

I kind of thought he'd look older with shorter hair…but to be honest I think he still looks his age and slightly more girly than when it was actually long! And I'm not gonna lie, I had a minor heart attack when she was blow drying it because I thought it was a Bieber haircut. Fortunately once the hair fell into place, it's just a plain boys haircut.

He didn't really care much, and pitched a fit when we left because the train table had to stay behind. It's nice to have the front of his hair not choppy and butchered like when I trim it. And everything is even, so it can grow back out without being a baby fine mullet.

So there he is. My little Peter Pan who doesn't age.

Before. They actually cut off 6" but it's hard to tell it was that long because of the curl.

Hang on, I gotta take this call guys.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The things that never were.

I've never really been one to believe in fate. I do think there's such a thing as something "right" happening, but I think there are a lot of rights in life. But sometimes I also feel like there's some great power out there that is controlling something, and things are going too well to be just a coincidence…like they are meant to be.

But then the aforementioned power sees something shiny and gets distracted and shit changes.

Then you're left wondering. Wondering if it was supposed to happen like that, or if there was a glitch in the system and if you hadn't gotten a wild hair and let yourself freeflow wherever, if things would have turned out differently.

I never wanted to be a nurse actually. I wanted to be a veterinarian. But I'm too much of a softy and knew I couldn't handle it. I actually don't even remember when I decided to go to nursing school; somehow it just happened. I had a pre-med focus at ASU and at some point I just changed it. Everyone else has these "meant to be" stories about how they've wanted to be a nurse since they were a child, and wanted to take care of people and be there for them in their time of need. Then there's me, and apparently I just pulled a nursing degree out of my ass and here I am.

It's not that I don't want to help people, or that I don't care. I do. I just have moral issues with a lot of goings on in hospitals, and I lose passion for it daily. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of patients that I have that I will never ever forget, and that totally make my job worth it most of the time. But that's getting rarer and rarer.

But if I hadn't have gone to nursing school, I wouldn't have made certain friends or had certain relationships. I wouldn't have stayed in Phoenix and I wouldn't have my son. But what did I miss out on? What would I be doing if I decided to do something else? I don't know.

But this is it. This is all I have and all I will ever be given. Am I making the most of it? I'd like to think that I am, but I know that I probably am not. I guess it's like that with everything though…we all have a tendency to take for granted what we have when we are busy wondering about the what ifs. I love my life. And I'm fortunate to be where I am. I'll continue to moan and groan when I get up in the morning, knowing I'm headed toward the weird smelling place full of fluorescent lights, pain, addicts checking in hoping for their next fix, death, psych patients screaming at me for ruining their purple furniture (wtf?), rotting flesh, the smell of shit wafting through the air, laughter, reassurance, love. Life. And try to remember that I see a side of life nobody else does. Something pure and raw and real. I see more things in 12 hours that some people will ever see in a lifetime, both physically and emotionally. I am continually reminded on a daily basis that life is all we have and it can be done in an instant. Our bodies are freaking amazing, intricate, mind blowing. But they will just stop. And then all that's left is your shell, laying alone in a room, waiting for me to come in with the white bag that smells like shower curtains and haul you off in a metal cart. A new patient will come to the room and you are just gone. Forever. I zip the bag closed over your face and know that's the last time your face will ever be seen.

And I guess I'll just have to keep telling myself that even though sometimes I look back and wonder how the hell I got here, life is a lot like placing a urinary catheter in a morbidly obese person. You hold your breath (because it stinks) and just keep stabbing in the dark. Eventually you'll get it in, and no matter how you got it there it'll work out ok, because there's only one way in and one way out.

In the end, we're all just searching for that hidden urethra.