Sunday, January 30, 2011

Worst conference EVER!

Picture're invited to spend 4 days in Miami in the middle of January for a work "summit".  The hotel is on the beach, it's going to be in the 70s, and the organizers are aware that most people coming to the meeting live in cold climates.  Given this, and given that I work in a university setting that tends to be holistic and wellness focused, one would think we would have had a decent balance of work and play.  One would be wrong.  Very very excruciatingly wrong.  Instead, we spent 11.5 hours INSIDE in a conference room talking about "student learning outcomes".  While I understand the importance of setting goals and measuring their effectiveness, that's just basic practice in my world, I didn't need 30+ hours of training on it.  To make matters worse, one of the presenters requested we turn off our cell phones.  That by  itself isn't a big problem, but then he said he wasn't above TAKING THEM AWAY from people.  Ummmm.....that's funny, you don't look like my dad!  Wow I was pissed.  Here we are, in the middle of trying to get a loan from the bank to renovate the house, I have multiple situations with students at work, and you're going to TAKE MY PHONE AWAY?  Ummmmm....see....just because learning outcomes are the whole of your life doesn't mean they're the whole of mine.  So we spent 4 days in Miami and not quite an hour on the beach the day we left.  Unacceptable.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Business of Being Born

In the past few weeks, I have been researching options for childbirth.  This may sound like an odd thing to do when one isn't pregnant, but what can I say, I'm a planner.  Luckily my lovely husband (which is still fun to say) knows this and just rolls with it, which frankly is all you can do once I get going on something.  So I've been reading reading reading, googling googling googling, and what do I find out?  The way we as women are intended to birth is, shock and dismay, the healthiest for everyone.  Of course there are exceptions, but about 85% of the time it would work like it should if we would only let it. 
A few statistics:  Save the Children (April 2006). This is the second worst newborn death rate in the developed world.
- Among 33 industrialized nations, the United States is tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of nearly 5 per 1,000 babies, according to a new report from
- The five countries with the lowest infant mortality rates in the March of Dimes report -- Japan, Singapore, Sweden, Finland and Norway – midwives were used as their main source of care for 70 percent of the birthing mothers.
- Cesarean-delivery rates are now at an all time high in the United States, standing at 1.2 million, or 29.1 percent of live births in 2004. The increase represents a 40 percent increase in the past 10 years. (In 1970 the rate was 5.5%) In several New York City-area hospitals, the Cesarean-delivery rate is even higher – over 40%.  In my research, I have found it to be about 38% at my local hospitals.
- A new report by the World Health Organization, published in the international medical journal, Lancet, identifies complications from cesarean surgery and anesthesia as the leading causes of maternal death in developed countries, including the United States.

I highly recommend that anyone pregnant or thinking about getting that way do some research.  You don't have to see the movie, that being said it was a lot easier for NG to take in the information that way.  He was HORRIFIED at the statistics, he had NOT A CLUE that we even had the option of birthing outside a hosptial.  The movie focuses on home births, and he was upset to discover from yours truly that attended homebirths are illegal in our state.  ILLEGAL.  We are strongly considering going to a neighboring state (only about a 30m drive) to a birthing center just so we can stay out of the hospital and avoid the cascade of interventions. 
TD is a cascade-of-interventions baby...........go to the hospital on the due date, get pitocin (fake hormones that your body isn't really that faked out by), need an epidural (because your body isn't really faked out), be unable to walk because of the epidural and the whole strapped-to-the-bed-with-monitors thing, don't eat anything but ice chips (since you're probably going to have major surgery), get totally exhausted, shockingly your labor fails to progress (since you're exhausted, stressed out, and fighting the force of gravity), then end up with a C-section.  There are so many things wrong with that process that it's hard to even wrap my head around. 
First of all, NO ONE straps me to a bed.  Unacceptable.  I can check my email while I sit in the creek at my dad's, you can't tell me the monitors can't be wireless, too.  Second, generally babies will come out when they're good and ready to come out, not when the doctor says it's time.  Babies don't have little tiny calendars in there with their due dates circled in red.  This tirade of mine just scratches the surface of the problems inherent in medicalized birth.
It's time to stop thinking doctors know everything.  It's time to stop looking at pregnancy as an illness.  A huge part of me just wants to scream about the destruction of personal power inherent to being strapped to a bed with an (often male) authority figure messing with your girl parts telling you you've failed.

Here are just a couple of the great blogs out there on the subject:

Well Rounded Birth Prep
Navelgazing Midwife

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Getting There

It's been so helpful to hear from other stepmoms on the "always second" frame of mind, I'm glad to know it isn't just me that has struggled with this.  I think it really is a frame of mind, too, and I'm not sure where it came from to be honest.  It certainly isn't the message I get from NG, he's excited for our life and our children, including TD.  My guess, not shocking and just to be blunt, is it's a symptom of my own insecurity.  And why is it that I go a little crazy when I don't exercise???  Clearly I need a steady stream of happy brain chemicals.  Hopefully over time the insecurity will abate and life will go on.  I also wouldn't be surprised if being off birth control has something to do with the issue, I'm wondering if my body is still regulating itself hormonally.  Ponder ponder ponder.  This therapist needs to get out of her own head.  :-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Always Second

Some days, rarely really, it occurs to me that I will never have a first with NG.  I'm not his first wife, wasn't his first wedding, won't be having his first baby, etc.  Yesterday I just about came unhinged over the first baby thing.  It was odd, really, that I got so upset.  I hadn't exercised in a few days and I think the lack of happy brain chemicals contributed to the problem.  I learned the other night that he has already attended birthing classes, and that was kind of the light bulb moment, or the opposite really, like someone hit the breaker and it all went dark.  I have been researching birth options, have been getting all excited about having a baby and being a family, and then WHAM, I realized this is old hat to him.  I got annoyed with him because he wasn't as excited as I was, then I realized's just not new to him like it is to me.  He's been there, done that, got the tee shirt.  The tee shirt comes over 3 or 4 days a week, this shouldn't be news to me, but somehow it was suddenly very real and very very sad.  I told him about it last night, once I could put words to it.  He made a joke and that was that.  Knowing him, he just didn't know what to say, will ponder it and come out with something brilliant and loving in a couple of days.  It's not his issue to fix, though, it's mine, and somehow I have to reconcile it in my brain.  Exercising this morning helped, going to work today will help, and somehow I'll wrap my brain around it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Kids on the Grocery List

We had TD Thursday and Friday this week, off schedule because of some travel NG was supposed to do (ended up not going because of weather).  We had a really great time both nights, as usual, despite our heat pump going out and it being 20 degrees at night.  TD is very flexible most of the time (except when it comes to food) and was happy to sleep on an air mattress in front of the wood stove with the dog.  I just love her.  She makes me INSANE with the picky eating thing, but I'm letting go of that some, which is quite a process, and our relationship is improving because of it.
The best part was Friday night.  I always tell TD to put things she would like from the store on the grocery list.  She has never put anything unreasonable on there, so I think it's a good way for her to feel some power over the food in the house.  I tend to think the picky eating thing is a power struggle, it didn't start until after the divorce, and a lot of time food issues tend to be about power and control or lack thereof, or so my therapist head thinks.  But I we're in the kitchen, just she and I, and she gets the pen and writes something on the list.  I didn't really pay attention at first, and when I looked up, this is what I saw:
It's not a very good picture.  Our grocery list has a dog theme (that's who the tennis balls are for).  If you look at the top, you'll see that the child put 2 children on the grocery list.  I just about peed my pants laughing.  I so sincerely hope that enthusiasm continues when we actually have children.  I would love to hear what people have done to incorporate new children into a family like ours.   We're hoping to get pregnant in the Spring (Lord willing and the creek don't rise, as my dad says), so she'll be 10 when he/she is born.  Any tips, tricks, or insight?  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The honeymoon, the holidays, and the renovating

One of these days I hope to get good enough at this to remember to do it more regularly.  I was on a roll there for a while! 
Our honeymoon was AWESOME.  It was exactly what we needed and exactly what it was supposed to be, time for us to connect and bond as a couple.  We're going to try to take a vacation, just us, at least once a year for the health of our relationship.  Not a St. Lucia vacation, mind you, just a long weekend.  Maybe we'll do a big one every 5 years.  This is one of those great things about marrying a man who has been married before.....he knows what doesn't work.  Putting your children before your marriage doesn't work.  Never being without your children doesn't work.  Basically, trading your marriage for a family doesn't work.  Marriage and family experts will tell you that, and if you look for them you'll see examples all around.  If you focus on the health of your marriage, your family will be healthy, too.  To paraphrase an old saying, if mama and daddy ain't happy, no one's happy.
We got back from our honeymoon a week and a half before Christmas.  Guess who, apparently in a happy newlywed haze, volunteered to host Christmas dinner???????  Yeah, that would be me.  The dinner wasn't the problem, the house was.  It was a mess.  I spent 2 solid days just cleaning.  It's amazing how much of a mess can be made when no one's home.  Then there was the cooking.  I can't just make dinner, I have to MAKE dinner when we have company.  Ham with an apple rosemary glaze, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, green salad, baked apples, and homemade creme brulee for dessert.  It was super yummy, even to my constantly critical brother.
And now onto the renovation.  When did bankers become so stupid?  "We can loan you $50,000 if you can bring $25,000 to the table."  Ummm.........if I had $25k we wouldn't be having this conversation you dumbass.  The general contractor's wife has bone cancer, so the window installation has started but isn't finished and it's January so that's a cold endeavor to begin with.  It''s a home renovation, it's pretty much par for the course.
There is, of course, the ever-present custody situation.  A few months ago, as you will recall here TD said she wanted to spend more time with us.  TM tabled it until after the holidays.  Lo and behold, she has changed her mind.  I'm sure the uninterrupted week home alone with TM right before this massive switch had nothing to do with it.  Riiiiiight.  TM said she didn't want to tell NG because she didn't want to hurt his feelings.  All we told her was that she doesn't need to worry about hurting our feelings (underlying message: we are not emotionally dependent on you, you are not your dad's BFF, we're stable adults), that she can tell us anything, and that she is loved.  Hello, High Road, good to see you!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cartilage and Carcasses

This Thanksgiving found us joining the masses of road warriors, traveling from house to house to see all of the family.  I don't think we will typically journey to NG's family for this holiday, since it's about 11 hours from home, but this time we were invited to NG's dad's 70th birthday surprise party and couldn't resist.  In order to miss the bulk of the traffic, we went to my family 3 hours away first, then traveled the rest of the way to NG's family on Thanksgiving day.  It worked out pretty well, aside from the regular crap that comes up when you drive that far........exits with no re-entry, rain, etc.  We were driving a rental Impala (no mileage limit on the insurance rental from my accident, so why not?) and that made it harder.  What car designer makes a car without cup holders in the back seat???  Insanity, especially when a car that big is clearly a family car.  If only that had been the only design POURED rain for the last 5 hours of our trip on Thursday, and the handy-dandy traction control system in the car just about wrecked us several times.  Terrible car.
The trip was fun, though.  The party went off without a hitch, got to spend some time with NG's sister and dad's girlfriend/long-time fiance/acts like a wife, got to see snow, and met lots of people that I've heard lots about.  Apparently TM didn't like going up there and refused to go after TD was about 2, even though they were still married, so NG drove 11 hours ALONE with her for several years.  The trip feels like a piece of cake for him now that I'm here.  His family is very nice to me, very welcoming, and appreciative that I, I don't know, participate in their life?  It seems as though TM opted out, just wouldn't go up, wouldn't interact when they came to visit, and just generally acted poorly.  Its weird to me because they're very nice people!  TD LOVES to go up, her cousins live on a farm and she loves to help with the animals, this trip she got to feed a calf from a bottle which was just the coolest thing.  She cried for 3 hours Monday night when everyone went home. 
NG did quite a bit of hunting while we were there, it was good for him to spend some time with his dad and brother and friends and he really enjoyed himself.  TD and I were just hanging out when they all (all 11 of them) descended upon the house declaring NG's dad got a doe.  My first clue was when NG's dad showed up in the kitchen bloody.  Ew.  It was quite the ritual to watch, I'll have to elaborate another day.  TD watched them gut and skin the doe, much to my surprise, and decided to take a hoof home to show her mom.  That went over about as well as you would think, TM was not amused

The cartilage piece is less fun by far.  After my accident my chest was sore.....I knew that it pretty much came with the territory, chest x-ray was normal, life goes on.  Well I clearly didn't give myself enough time to recover before our trip, and found myself picking up kids and hauling around luggage and cases of beer for the party.  When I woke up Sunday morning I could barely move.  I sneezed this morning and it hurt so badly I stood in the bedroom and cried.  Luckily I work with nurses and doctors who were nice enough to make sure I didn't have pneumonia (I have a cough that hurts like hell) and that I hadn't broken a collarbone.  That all checked out fine and the doc helpfully told me I have something really awesome called costochondritis, better known as pissing off your cartilage to the point that it yells at you every time you move.  And holy Lord don't cough or sneeze whatever you do.
The honeymoon is 4 days away.  A hurricane hit there around the first of November, but we've been assured everything's fine.  My luck is not so good these days, so I'm unconvinced but hopeful.  I think 7 days on the beach picking up nothing heavier than my margarita is just what the doctor ordered.