Tuesday, January 21, 2020

New year new anxiety

Ahh it was bound to happen. The past two years have been, all in all, bliss. Good health, happy healthy babies.  Things were bound to veer a bit, right?

Abnormal mammogram results in left breast. Could be nothing. Reasonable brain says, hey that was the milking work-horse. It's only been three months, maybe the milk ducts are still visible and causing a wonky image.

Or not. Sigh.

Meanwhile, I have some work stress - nothing do or die, nothing that will lead to any kind of housing or health catastrophe. But I'm currently doing my job plus another (our policy analyst resigned) and well, it's a lot.

Add this to the general fuckery of daily living (who else out there has like 10K in credit card debt hat they're trying to bring down, that wasn't the result of a new car or fancy vacation but racked up on things like their children's ballet lessons?)

All of this shall pass.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

If I could do it all over again

Samantha is turning two.  SAMANTHA IS TURNING TWO.

Her sister just turned eleven.  ELEVEN.

If I could do it all again, if I knew then what I know now.... I would have started earlier.

Now, functionally, I'm not sure what this would look like.  Viking and I were together for 5 years before our marriage. Making it legal was inevitable, but maybe I would have pressed harder. I was 33 when we married, 34 when Niblet was born.

My mom and I have talked about how I should have ignored my job worries and started trying for a second baby immediately after Niblet was born. Yeah, I lost a year or two there. Who knows. And that's leaving aside the five straight years of  pregnancies and loss.

Please don't misunderstand, I wake up every day unbelievably grateful for my daughters.  Daughters with an S! But the reality is I might be one of those crazy women who had more, if given the chance. Sure, maybe the environmentalist in me would stop at two. But god help me I love babies, and it seems, I crave babies. And if the eleven year old is any indication, I still like them when they become old and snarky and indignant of your very existence.

"Gonna try for another?" my vice president asked me the other day. My jaw dropped.  "Do you realize how old I am?" I responded.

But in a different universe, in an alternative reality, the honest truth is yes.  Yes. I would.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A decade

Last night was HARD. Samantha has been fighting some nasty virus for days. Her cough sounds horrible, her temps have been erratic. She slept maybe a total of 2 hours straight, and was inconsolable when she wasn't in my arms. There was a lot of me trying to hold her squirming body against mine in a rocking chair.

I got her to the doctor this morning and thankfully she doesn't have RSV which was my initial fear. No, based on her symptoms and check up she was whacked by a stomach virus late last week, recovered, and was whacked by another virus that's mainly causing congestion. We should be out of the woods in a few days.

This uneventful run of the mill life of a sick toddler got me thinking of the last decade.

Let me step back. Niblet is obsessed with "Mr. Kate" - a YouTuber who does interior design with her husband. We were binging on it the other day, while Sammi remained the dynamo of dangerous climbing in the living room, all while sniffling, coughing and snotting away on our furniture.

"What's a miscarriage?" asked Niblet, when we hit an episode featuring a couple who were expecting after three miscarriages (one was technically a stillbirth but I didn't get into it). The mother was now a week away from holding a baby in her arms.
"It's when you're pregnant and your baby doesn't live sweetie. You know how I said I had many of them before..." I stared at the screen, showing a nursery filled with rainbows and butterflies. "Sammi is our rainbow baby."

This decade. Oh my god, this decade.

I celebrated twelve years of marriage.

I raised a gorgeous insanely smart daughter into tweenhood.

I found a job near my home where I will likely retire fighting for low wage healthcare workers in my City.

I became a Zumba instructor.

I discovered a need to embrace my religious heritage in ways that surprised me.

I experienced eight consecutive pregnancy losses. They included a partial molar pregnancy and a TFMR in the second trimester. 

I had four D&Cs. I developed Asherman's Syndrome and sought treatment in Boston. 

I embarked on Donor Egg IVF at a clinic in Delaware, a process that involved more introspection and frankly, legal expertise, than I ever could have imagined.

I got pregnant from my first IVF cycle. 

I carried a supremely healthy baby, in the lowest-risk pregnancy of a highest-risk pregnant woman of advanced maternal age the world may ever have seen.

Samantha was born. Niblet got a long-awaited sister. I discovered the need for a baby all those years wasn't some sort of misplaced energy. Samantha was the baby who was supposed to be in my arms during those sleepless nights filled with coughing and discomfort. 

Samantha is now almost two.

I memorialized it all in this blog, this love letter to my daughters.

This decade.

Monday, December 23, 2019

thinking of all of the beautiful souls

We're in the frenzy of the season now, aren't we.

I'm at work right now, taking a break from a ginormous project that is occupying a good portion of my brain even when I leave work.

I'm stressing at night over impending state and federal tax payments for our nanny - I am a little unsure where I will scrape the money together if I don't get any kind of cash hanukkah gift from  my parents.

Through all of this - the stress of a skyrocketing credit card balance and the deep concern that we can't pay our bills - I am just clinging to the joy of my family.

To all the mammas who are still reeling in their grief, I see you.

To the mammas who feel those stabs as I do - intermittently - but acutely when they arrive - I see you.

I've been flooded with memories the past few days, as my household adjusts to life without my MIL. Viking is most definitely drinking his feelings, it's a sad sight to see.  My FIL will be arriving today. He is a recovering alcoholic and will be a good, calming influence on my husband. They need each other desperately right now.

I am the wandering Jewess, yet the specific person who throws the Christmas parties for the family I have married into. Christmas Eve dinner will include my FIL, possible my brother and sister-in-law and a family of friends who were looking for some place to find company. We'll have a ridiculous amount of food (I'm Jewish after all).

Christmas Day I will also host an open house for family (some cousins who are expecting, our uncle, and another family of friends looking for something to do). Muffin tin eggs (google it!), Nutella waffles and mushroom hash brown casseroles will be on the menu.  Possible a soup too if I feel inspired.

Niblet and I baked a million cookies, made some chocolate bark and started curing a bunch of salmon  for gravlax.

Meanwhile, Samantha is the most adorable troublemaker in the world. She's a tornado of destruction through the house causing more spills, breaks and the need for vacuuming than anyone her size.

And she is the greatest gift our household has ever known.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Saving tips

Any more credit card debt and this blog will morph into a penny-saver tip site, hahahaha

Looking to slash that household budget?

Renegotiate everything - your wireless plan, your car insurance, you name it. 

I've created a whole new art to take your lunch to work.  This week it's ramen noodles - hooray, I'm 19 again. God I love this economy. Pro-tips: 

1. Don't use the entire seasoning packet, to cut down on the sodium
2. Add a cup from the bag of frozen veggies of your choice.
3.  Add a tsp of THIS sauce: 

Laoganma Spicy Chili Crisp Sauce, 7.41 Fl Oz

Monday, December 2, 2019

more thankful than imaginable

The holiday weekend came and went so quickly.

Viking ended up being able to join us, his Dad spent the holiday with his brother. Yay! Our family loaded in the car and hauled to NYC with only a few tears from the backseat. The visit was nice- not relaxing mind you - but pleasant. My parents are in love with S (Nibble too, but S got the accolades for being the cuddlier one). But my mom made the Best Fucking Turkey in the Word (TM) and there was no drama. In fact everyone got along really well despite the close quarters and sometimes at odds politics. Yay for calm!

After three nights of not sleeping on a cramped futon with an often screaming baby in the pack and play 30 inches away, the first night back in my own bed was amazing.

I'm pretty sure I have some sort of muscle injury in my back from hauling the 40 pound person around and up and down stairs. I'm considering seeing a chiropractor because it's covered by my insurance. What I'd really love is a massage but....

We're experiencing a cash flow problem in my house.  "Are we poor?" asked poor Niblet, when she heard Viking and I bickering about money. "Nooo sweetie, we're not poor by a long shot. We just have to be really careful about money right now because having C on a payroll and paying her fairly is eating at our ability to have more nice meals out and buying things we really don't need."

Actually, it's a little worse than that -  we are accumulating a fair amount of debt on my credit card - that I don't see being able to pay off in the next three months without a substantial gift from my parents. Viking has eliminated all of his savings. Thankfully, I was raised on the fringe of the middle class and have a good idea about how to save money overall - but it will take a while. Viking on the other hand is freaking out. We are still paying off our home equity loan - the one that allowed us to bring Samantha into the world. Money well spent, but money still owed.

We've cut out virtually all eating out. The convenient fancy Wholefoods Grocery across the street is a treat now, it's all Giant foods with coupons all the time now (Please Please Please don't go on strike Giant members of UFCW local 27 who were chanting in the store last week. I support you and can't cross a picket line but I really can't afford the WholePaycheck right now). I haven't bought a cup of coffee in months. My black beans in the slow cooker are a thing to behold.

I've cut trips to Target (buy your diapers online to cut the impulse shopping!) Viking is going to sell his roadbike. I am hoping to start back up a Zumba class at the office to make an extra $20 bucks a week next year.

Both T and I have significantly reduced our 401K contributions. I've also reduced Nibble's 529 contribution. I'm constantly looking for other places to slash the household budget.

Hand me down toys that Samantha has never seen will emerge from the attic this Christmakuh. Nibble understands she will not be getting the electronics she wants (don't worry, she'll do just fine on the present front).

Viking and I realize just how much my mother being Nibble's primary caretaker her first year meant financially, we are so grateful for my parents help. Having C on payroll is a finite expense and we are so grateful for having her in our lives. But paying one's Nanny a living wage and benefits is definitely something that is stretching us to our limits.

The main thing I'm trying to do is ensure Nibble doesn't feel any of this. We are still paying for her (very) expensive dance training because she loves it and is incredibly talented and I don't skip on quality ballet classes. She has Hebrew School which also must be paid for. I'm constantly on the hunt for Groupons for activities.

It's all good. Aside from my back and knees (which desperately need PT that won't be covered by insurance) and teeth (which need braces for non-cosmetic reasons that also won't be covered by insurance), we have our health. We have our house - it needs a lot of work that also won't get done any time soon (peeling plaster, a rotting front porch), but it's still standing.

So thankful.

(I just need my car to not break down).

Friday, November 8, 2019

take a deep breath

People say to breathe all the time right?

So we always travel to NYC for thanksgiving with my parents.  I cook the goyishe Christmas meal. This is how we've traditionally managed the separate families who live states away.

Except this morning I received a text from Viking.  "Hey, I may stick around for thanksgiving to be with my dad."

There was a piece of me that was bracing for this. First thanksgiving for my FIL without his wife of 40 years. They traditionally spent it with my brother in law and his wife, but those two are wildcards.

Breathe. Don't type back. Just breathe.

I will not drive the girls myself. No gonna happen, my car is already in poor condition and I can't manage the two screaming kids in the back on a roadtrip by myself. Nope nope nope.

So it's the train or my girls don't see her grandparents. Ok. Get on Amtrak.com and look at the fares.

Jesus. This will cost a fortune and I'm currently carrying a $6000 balance on my credit card that I can't pay down fast enough. Ok, cheapest 6am train it is, I can do this. I can pack up the baby and her sister, a large stroller and one large suitcase. I can do this. My parents would like irritate my husband beyond repair anyways this year.

It will be ok.

Except the fraying is there. This weekend marks my 12 year anniversary - 12 years married, 17 together. A lifetime.  When I first got that text message I was indescribably angry. I'm exhausted. The brunt of household chores fall on me. I'm offered the option of working out after I get the baby down at 7pm, which I've got to say is the worst time in the world to work out because you're tired and then your heartrate jacks up and it's damn hard to fall asleep. And at 7pm I have to first clean the living room up to make space to work out anyways. It's not a great deal.

My nanny informed me that from her daily morning parenting podcast she learned that single mothers have less housework than married ones.  Read that again. Based on the cleaning I do I can totally say this true.

I don't want a marriage frayed from the years of resentment brought on by exhaustion. He's exhausted too. He gets up at 5 to commute 90 minutes to a job he doesn't particularly enjoy. He lost his mom. He's worried about his dad. He shares the responsibility of getting Niblet to her dance classes, to Hebrew school if I'm gone. He cooks some meals and does grocery shopping, (though honestly not as efficiently as I do because he still doesn't know how to meal plan. But he makes his own breakfasts and lunches and that's something).