Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bird in Hand

If you have not started reading Christina Baker Kline's books, you need to. She's easily in my top ten of favorite authors and her books are just so enjoyable. That and if you are looking for some early Christmas shopping for friends who love a good chick lit novel that doesn't make you puke or irrationally anger (looking at your books, Jodi Picoult), this is a GREAT alternative. Actually, any of her books are.

Bird in Hand - Christina Baker Kline
Bird in Hand
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train comes a novel about the choices we make, how they shape our lives, and how they can change them forever.Four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship: Everything is about to change.It was dark. It was raining. It was just an accident. On the drive home from a rare evening out, Alison collides with another car running a stop sign, and--just like that--her life turns upside down. When she calls her husband from the police station, his accusatory tone reveals cracks in their relationship she'd never noticed were there. Now she notices everything. And she begins to realize that the life she carefully constructed for herself is as tenuous as a house of cards. Exquisitely written, powerful, and thrilling, Bird in Hand is a novel about love and friendship and betrayal, and about the secrets we tell ourselves and each other.

I love her characters. One thing about Christina is she can craft a really great set of characters, all flawed and some that drive you mad, but what they all have in common is that they feel real. They feel like people you may know in your own life as it is and the drama we read about in any of her books are things that could play out in real life. So I appreciate these stories so much because they almost feel like you are reading some kind of sordid gossip about the neighbors, but it could also be your story and who doesn't love that? 

Ultimately, this feels like a story about a marriage running off the rails long before and it takes a horrific accident (the loss of a child) to bring it to light. Both people probably know it's not what it used to be, but like the rest of us, we get busy in the day to day and just make mediocre work. When Alison hits a child, after drinking a little too much, and that child is killed- it throws her marriage off the edge. She doesn't get support or comfort from her husband, instead she gets the cold shoulder and it's like he doesn't even care her fate at all. So that's how this story starts. 

But then we bring in Claire (who I hate, hate, hate and I can't think of one positive thing to say about her at all), and it turns out she's actually really the main character? I'll be honest, that was kind of confusing for me because I had settled in thinking I was going to be reading about Alison and her crap life but then we shift focus to Claire and how despite loving her husband Ben, she's really attracted to Alison's husband Charlie. And I don't think I have to tell you how that will all end, but it's not pretty and Claire becomes one of those women we see on shows like Dr. Phil who are total home wreckers and play the "it's not my fault I'm so great and attractive" card and you can't find any sympathy for. And you can't by sympathetic to Claire at all, that's just the kind of awful person she is. But what gets me is that while I'm reading the meat of the story, I realize Charlie is just like Claire and I want Alison and Ben to grow some damn balls and stick up for themselves. Then I think- people like Claire and Charlie probably specifically pick the personality types like Alison and Ben as "partners" because it's so easy to do what they want and they know they'll never get resistance, but they get the perks of marriage, but who even knows what that is with these people. 

In the end, I loved it. I just love how the author crafts her stories, I love the writing, I love the characters because you get enough to make the story, but leaves enough room for you to fill in the gaps with how you feel they should be- that makes it feel like you turn this into people you know almost. It's always a treat to pull out one of her books because I know I'm in for a great night curled up on the couch with my favorite blanket. 

If you want to learn more about the author and get a list of all of her titles, definitely check out her website. If you want to see what other blog book reviewers are saying about the book, head over to TLC's book page and click on any of the links


Monday, October 27, 2014

Birthing a baby seven years later is kind of stressful.

I mentioned on Friday that I was going to go to this Birth & Baby Fair thing over in Duluth this weekend. Well I went to that, and as it turns out, things are a lot different than when I had my kids nine and almost seven years ago. What isn't different is the shaming and judging from other moms and thankfully for me, I've been doing this long enough that it doesn't bother me anymore and I can laugh it off with this wisdom that in the long wrong, their kid will be no better or healthier than mine but you do you, booboo. (I'm sorry, but the "breast is best" slogan? Shaming. You are being a passive aggressive shamer when you use that. It might be best, but to keep repeating it means you are being passive aggressive and you are putting down all other options. How about we just agree to feed our babies? Huh? Why can't we just have brochures that say, "Hey- you need to feed your baby. A lot. Here are your options." without including the "breast is best" thing??)

There were a couple of classes I wanted to go to, which happened at the same time so I had to only choose one, so I went to the one on how to have a natural childbirth in the hospital. I know, I sound like a crazy granola munching oddball, I know. I freak myself out when I say it out loud, as well. But here's my thinking, because I've thought about this for almost 13 weeks now, I want to try. I want to try to go natural and not die. I feel like my chances of dying are low, so that's a plus. I had an epidural with Olivia and it was lovely, but it worked too well and I had no idea what the hell I was even doing when it came time to push. I also had postpartum depression with her and I always wondered if it blocked endorphins that made me feel indifferent. Which as it turns out, it never really goes away. I don't feel anywhere like I did that first year with her, not at all, but sometimes I feel a lack of bonding with her and I think it's really because I was so depressed and disconnected during her crucial first year. So then you bring on guilt, and feelings of inadequacy and shame. It's awful, I don't wish that on anyone.

Then with Jackson, I also had an epidural because nobody told me that being induced with Pitocin means your entire body revolts and it's like the worst labor you could have. Those contractions were brutal, and again, anyone who says that want to do that willingly is an idiot. Sorry, but you're an idiot. The problem that time was the epidural wore off completely about an hour after I got it. Which is probably the worst feeling while in labor. First you feel sweet relief and just as you are about to drift off into a lovely nap, you realize that oh hey- those pains are coming back. Wait, what? Only to be told from the super nice nurse that yes, it was wearing off and they weren't sure why but this actually can happen, and lucky me, I was going to be pushing soon anyways and I wasn't going to die. So I pushed out a baby with no medication. I know I can do that.

I don't know that I can handle contractions without medication. I'm scared, folks. And I shouldn't be because I am practically a pro at this point, and I know that I will get through it, those babies come out eventually. The other reality is that this is my third baby, labor will be faster. Olivia was ten hours start to finish, Jackson was five. So this baby could be delivered on the bridge over Lake Superior in the middle of the night at this rate.

So keeping all of this in mind, I want to look into my options. Ideally, I deliver at the same hospital as the other two, even the same room. I had the same room overlooking the lake with Olivia and Jackson, and it was lovely and relaxing. The biggest obstacle I'm running into is that, as it turns out, neither hospital will let me deliver anywhere except a bed. So no bath, no squatting, no weird positions. It's bed only. Which, maybe isn't the worst thing in the world- it obviously works. I kind of wanted to have some other options, but in a hospital setting that's out.

The other option is the next town over has a really great birthing center, not connected to a hospital. It looks like a lovely spa and honestly, I maybe wouldn't mind spending a week there. It's also half the cost of the hospital. Which, let's talk about costs. I feel like we're going to be kind of screwed. Mostly because we are on a high deductible plan and by the time I pay my deductible and the baby's, plus whatever else I owe? I could very well be looking at a $12,000 bill at the end of this. Which I think is really disgusting in general. Now, I could go the less expensive route, but that is not covered by insurance and they are an upfront payment, and I don't have even $100 in savings right now thanks to some expenses that popped up this fall. (The whole "saving all summer and feeling great" thing is basically erased with three bills and that is so depressing.) The other thing is that what if I decide enough is enough, I want an epidural, give me one NOW? I think they transport me, but at what cost? Then add the original hospital costs on top of the birthing center costs and I will have spent enough money to purchase a car.

In the far drastic line of options is a home birth. Which is almost half of what the birthing center costs. They come to you, clean up, pack up, and leave. Which also sounds lovely, but I really would feel more comfortable knowing both me and baby are monitored for awhile. I know people do that all of the time and I know that for the most part, I'll have an easy, healthy pregnancy and even easier labor and delivery. But still, what if??

The good news is that I am only 13 weeks this week and I have until May before I give birth. I have to really start asking tough questions. It's just really stressful. Everything sounds similar, but is so different from when I had kids, yet not totally? Does that make sense? Everything is much more expensive, and that is scaring me.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sometimes you actually need to be financially responsible.

I'll be honest, I'm probably going to get a lack of flack for this post and I'm OK with that. Because I feel like this is something we're all thinking, but nobody wants to be that jerk to say it, so I'll just be that jerk.

Gofundme.com? Is not meant to cover your ass because you are bad at budgeting your money.

In the last three months I have seen over twenty of these accounts show up on my Facebook feed for various reasons. We have people who want to buy a home, can't pay their utilities/rent/etc, wants a more reliable car, wants to bump up the Christmas fund for their kids, wants to have more money because we have a stay at home mom/one income household, etc.

Which, all things it would be so nice to have extra money for. I get it, I really do. Matt and I don't get to do a lot because we have bills and that's a total buzzkill. He works, on average, 80 hours a week, and I'm working part time so I can shuttle kids to/from things and maintain the house while he's gone almost all of the time. It sucks.

You know what else sucks? Having to say no to nice jeans so I can pay my light bill. That sucks a lot. I'd really like to get a pair of jeans that fit me properly, or shoes that don't hurt the arch of my feet. Matt would like new glasses, he hasn't had any in twelve years, but we have a mortgage and utility bill that comes every month and damn if they don't want their money.

Websites like that are meant for tragic, out of your control situations like cancer, your house burned down, someone was in a horrific accident, etc. They are not meant to be your fix all because you can't manage your money. And this is coming from someone who will donate or buy a ticket to a benefit, even if I know I won't be there. You show me a tragedy and I'm there with my checkbook out because that's awful. I try so hard to help everyone I can who genuinely needs it. I always feel like I want confirmation that this really is a necessary last resort. To the people who can't pay their bills- show me that you have made an effort to utilize every financial avenue out there, including financial counseling because you clearly need it. You need someone to teach you how to budget because it's not like bills come up out of nowhere.

And then the people who ask for money to upgrade their lifestyle? How about you get another job? Maybe cut out expenses in your life you don't need like cable/satellite, your cell phone, Internet, whatever. You don't need any of those things. You really don't. Lots of people get by every day just fine without them. It's not convenient or fun, I'll give you that, but if you really want to upgrade in your life, you're willing to sacrifice in other areas.

It's getting to be a bit ridiculous. It's like nobody understands the concept of working hard to go anywhere in life. It's not meant to be easy. I don't think Matt wants to work that much, and I'd certainly love to not work, but we need to because we want to own a home and own our vehicles. We want to pay our bills on time every month and we want to eat things other than Easy Mac for dinner. I think back to when my mom was raising my brother and I on her own. She worked her ass off every single day, she'd pull doubles regularly, sometimes more, and sleep on the couch because she had no bed. We had the only bed in our apartment. I can't tell you in all of the years I've been alive how many times my mom ever went out with friends. I honestly think it's none. I'm not saying you should sacrifice your sanity because I know the value of getting away for a night, but some of these people who want all of these things are also the people out clubbing or having drinks on the regular. You know, I feel like if you have time to go out drinking, you have time to get a second job. It's like priorities are meaningless anymore, we'd rather just have a hand out from someone else.

It's been so long since I blog randomness. Let's do it today.

Seriously, when was the last time I gave you a totally random post of random things bouncing in my head? It's been awhile. Sorry, lambs.

1. I'm going to just come and say I think Iggy Azalea sucks. She sucks, and we need to stop fawning over her. Let her go into obscurity now and save our ears. First of all, anyone who injects god knows what into their butt to gain popularity is an idiot and I can't take you seriously. Never mind that I don't understand how the size of your butt equates to your level of street cred, you'd think I'd have a massive following at this point, but I don't. But let's talk about her most recent song, "Black Widow". Can we talk about how terrible it is? With lyrics like, "I'm going to love you until it hurts", or referencing that the guy should stick with her because she's apparently really great at oral sex?

No, parents. No. I think it's time we teach girls and women that your worth doesn't come from your sexual ability or your body. And it's not OK to love someone until it hurts. You shouldn't essentially have to beg a guy to stay. It's not OK to act like a totally crazy lunatic in the name of love. Have some self respect. It's hard to take any woman, who claims to be this bad ass rapper, seriously when basically it comes down to threatening a guy to stay with you . It's kind of sad and pathetic.

2. Guess who wore her black slacks completely backwards the entire day at work? Yesterday, I did just that. I didn't realize it until I went to take my shower and I realized, "Hey- I didn't know I had front pockets!" and then it was pretty clear that those weren't front pockets. In fact, those were non-functioning back pockets, cleverly located in the front because I cannot dress myself. Probably should also mention my underwear was inside out as well. Frankly, I don't know how I'm allowed to supervise children and leave the house at this point.

3. Speaking of mommy brain? Last week I went to take chicken out of the freezer to thaw. I did not do that. Instead, I put a plate in the freezer. Found it two days later. Matt is scared because not only is this not like me at all, but I was never like this with my other pregnancies. So maybe it's not pregnancy related at all and really, I'm dealing with early onset dementia. Who even knows at this point.

4. I'm going shopping this weekend with a friend and maybe even my new sister in law. That's going to be fun. I'm hoping a day of walking around, getting fresh air, and doing something will help me not feel so awful.

5. Because oh yes, I have a really awful head cold. I feel like my entire face is going to explode and that's a really uncomfortable sensation.

6. I have a bunch of book reviews to wrap up soon. You might get bombarded with them. BUT, that just means you'll get a head start on Christmas shopping, right? Of course that's a yes because you should be gifting people books. Books are the best.

7. Oh guess what else I'm doing this weekend? Tomorrow I am going to this Birth & Baby Fair thing in Duluth. It's going to have a ton of vendors about babies and giving birth and all of that, and then there are workshops you can go to for free. I'm going to one called "How to have a natural childbirth in the hospital locally". I have to bring the kids with me, so this might freak them out, but I'm genuinely interested. I'd really like to try to go all natural this time, but that is terrifying because I know what I'm in for. I never made it past dilating to 5 with either kid before screaming for an epidural, but we'll see. And maybe I won't make it, but I'd like to know my options before I get there!

OK, so that's a good wrap up. Even though I'm ending it with an odd number and that's upsetting, I'm also tired, and that will trump everything.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

12 Weeks

I have hit a landmark, you guys! I am officially 12 weeks along as of yesterday. It was kind of a monumental day all around, so let's talk about it.

My appointment was originally set for 1:30 but it got bumped up to 10:30, which kind of worked out a whole lot better considering how long I ended up being there. I never would have made it to pick my kids up from school on time.

They told me I had to have a full bladder for the ultrasound, which is no big deal. Right before I leave the house though, I did a sneeze/cough combo and peed my pants. So after a quick change of clothes, I filled my water bottle up and proceeded to chug it because of course, I no longer had a full bladder. We get to the clinic 15 minutes early, just like they said.

I proceed to then wait 45 minutes. Normally, I wouldn't care. I'd read a magazine. But I had a full bladder. So full, in fact, that it was becoming painful to even sit there. Cue the secretary coming out to fill her water bottle in the water machine thing and all I hear is chug, chug, chug and honestly? I almost peed the chair. She clearly saw my face, profusely apologized, and said she'd find the ultrasound tech for me.

Another 15 minutes later, I get called back. She asks if I'm full and I say my bladder is going to burst at any moment. The best part is when she asks if I can pee just a little. Who can pee just a little? Nobody, it's all or nothing, lady.

So we do my ultrasound with a painfully full bladder.

And it's still terrifying. Because let me fill you in on a little secret, I was so scared for this appointment. I was convinced something was going to  be wrong, and I was so scared I was shaking. I didn't sleep at all the night before and it was nerve wracking.

As she's doing the ultrasound, I don't see a heartbeat. I see nothing moving. Finally after a few minutes, I had to just ask her to please tell me if there is a heartbeat. I think she was taken aback but then said, "Oh yes, it's right there." but guys? I saw nothing.

Until my sweet babe stretched it's little leg and pointed it's foot.

Clearly shown here. It apparently isn't a fan of waving so much and likes to kick, so there it was. We saw a kick!
Then we got a close up of the face (it's looking up) as it was getting ready to rub it's face, which it did a lot.

The heartbeat was 173 bpm, so old wives tale says that's a girl. The doctor laughed and said who even knows, that's only 50% right at best so we'll wait. The bad news is that the genetic testing we did does not test for gender. Apparently that costs a lot more (at least around here), so we opted to just to wait a few more weeks (8) to see.
12 weeks
But here I am at 12 weeks. I'm up two pounds, which is astonishing to me consider how little I've eaten in the last four weeks but there you go. Oh yes, and I cut 10 inches of hair off since my last update. Mostly because my hair kept dipping into the toilet, and I figured this was at least an issue I could fix. I notice a difference in my tummy from 8 weeks:
8 weeks
It's slight, but it's there. My boobs have also gotten bigger, so that's terrible. I'm having to wear a sports bra all of the time to get any kind of comfort because none of my regular bras will do the trick. Lots of spillage. So I'm hoping in the next couple of paydays I can afford to get actual maternity bras, or at least some front closure sports bras. 

Other than that, I'm feeling OK. It's definitely not great, but it's not as bad as it's been. I had gotten excited yesterday that it had been three or four days since I had thrown up, and then last night I got hit with a massive head cold and this morning I threw up my breakfast. I'm still exhausted basically all of the time, I feel like I have just run a marathon just walking from one end of the house to the other. I'm hoping with not being so sick, I can start walking the neighborhood in the evening because it starts snowing and getting really cold. I also am going to start up my Prenatal Pilates again and see if that'll help. I figure maybe I can tone my arms and legs and worry about the middle later. If I can keep my arms and legs in check, maybe I won't feel so huge and gross by the end. 

So May 6th is still the due date, and I'll find out what I'm having right around Christmas. Next appointment is right before Thanksgiving and that's the second half of a genetic screening and a tummy check. But we made it, lambs! 12 weeks. I feel damn good about that. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Multiplication is going to be the death of me.

For readers who are paying attention, my Olivia is in third grade this year. Olivia is super smart. She always test very well, always in the top ranking of the class, always in the top one or two percentile nationwide in basically everything. I felt like the first three years of school I was going to get by easily because she just picks up everything so effortlessly.

Until third grade.

More specifically, until multiplication.

Now, I fully understand that with the Common Core standards math is taught drastically different than when I was in school. And for the most part, I'm fine with that. Even if I don't understand it, that's not the important part. The important part is that my child understands it and can learn math concepts. And while I haven't understood how to do her math any other year using these new standards, I have always been able to go to the teacher and get some guidance and every year, that's worked out beautifully.

This year we are working on multiplication and division and I swear to you all, I am going to lose it. It's gotten to the point where I am actually telling her to ignore what her teacher is telling her because they way they are doing it makes no sense at all. At conferences, I brought this up and it's like the teacher understood my frustration, but gave us no other alternatives other than to keep trying. Well that's out the window. This week I started working with her on her times table and I thought by god- this kid is going to memorize it, and we'll work out the rationale later. Homework time has been reduced to tears (mine), frustration, then she cries, then we fight, and I know in that scenario she isn't retaining anything at all.

I fully understand the rationale behind explaining a math concept and having them know that 4x3=12, but also being explain what that actually means- that four rows of oranges over here multiplied by the three columns of oranges over here is going to give you twelve oranges. I agree that this is a great method to use, and frankly, maybe if it was explained that way to me as a kid I wouldn't have struggled so hard in math my whole life. But right now, I'm watching a highly intelligent, studious, happy girl dissolve into tears over homework.

I also hate that I am having to take it into my own hands at this point. Because frankly? I'm not a teacher for a reason. I did not go to school to be a teacher, I have no idea what I am doing and that's why I don't home school. I'm not kidding myself, I have no idea what I'm doing. I want her to be able to do well on assignments, without me guiding her along, but also do well on tests to show that she actually can do it.

The nice thing is that it isn't just my kid. I have talked to a lot of other parents with kids in the same boat. What gets me is that of the parents I spoke with, we're all very hands on with our children's education and they are struggling. What about the kids who don't have parents at home who care enough to help with homework? Those kids are getting lost in the shuffle and that's heartbreaking. I don't know what to do about that. But I do know that if multiplication is this hard with Olivia, I'm terrified for when Jackson gets there because he's not nearly as studious as her. He's smart, but he doesn't love school work enough to really put effort into it. And if third grade is this hard? God help me from here on out.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I may be growing a Baby Einstein.

Probably one of the most interesting things about having such a gap between pregnancies are the major differences. For you women who are holding out on having babies until you're older, there are definitely some pros for that list, but here are a list of cons that I am currently dealing with.

And for the record, I'm not even old. I'm only 32. If you're older, you know, god speed and all of that.

Pregnancy brain is real, yo. When I was pregnant the first two times, I was ages 23 and 25. At 25 I felt a bit old but good, you know? I felt like I was still at the top of my game. I was in my reproductive prime. I was still sharp as a whip and I had no idea what anyone was talking about when they complained about pregnancy brain or memory loss. The fact is, this is a very real symptom. Today I was on Facebook when I realized I knew not one person in the feed I was reading. Not one. I got kind of offended, thought someone had hacked into my account, but then? Then I realized I wasn't on my news feed at all. I was in a garage sale page. It didn't even dawn on me that every single post was someone selling something until after the fact. I honestly feel like this baby is sucking every smart thing out of my head.

We're done, bitch. Regards, your bladder. One of my top complaints following two pregnancies was the fact that I felt like my bladder and I had broken up. I wasn't sure what I had done wrong. I drank urine friendly juices, I never held my urine in for too long, I did Kegels several times a day for years, I wore appropriate underwear and not too tight pants. I really felt like I did everything I could to placate my bladder. It's taken years, but I have finally learned that the chances of me peeing my pants is high because my bladder? She's fickle. So I'm always prepared with pads and yes, spare underwear at times. But this go around? Oh my. My bladder? She's angry. She's threatening me with UTI's for no reason, she's giving me zero notice when it's time to go and if you have to cough or sneeze? You best hold it until you are on a toilet because bladder don't play.

Energy might come back. Or not. Probably not. The other down fall this time around is that the level of exhaustion is unreal. Again, I was never tired with my other two. I felt perfectly normal, other than the fact I was huge. This time walking from the couch to the refrigerator warrants a sit down. I walked the dog ten blocks and after block two, I felt like my legs might actually stop working and I'd be totally content to fall asleep for a few minutes in someone's ditch.

Oh wait, it comes back, but only between the hours of 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Because yes, what I want to do in the middle of the night is finish the things I needed to get done while everyone else was up. I am literally wide awake in the middle of the night. I pee, I'm tired on the way back to bed and as soon as I lay down- wide awake. By the time I start falling asleep, it's just about time to get up. I get like an hour. Which is nothing, and only makes me more tired.

Pregnancy depression is the worst. I suffer from depression and anxiety already. When I'm not pregnant, I can usually manage these things on my own without medication and I feel like I do an OK job. I might hyper ventilate and have panic attacks in my car before something at my kids' school, but I try to leave enough time so I can do that and then calm myself down so I don't look like a maniac. And depression, I have my own set of ways of handling that and sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't. But as of right now? I cry in my car on my way to work, on my way home from work, before bed, when I wake up in the morning, and sometimes I tear up randomly all day. Maybe it's a combination of stress, feeling unwanted/unneeded, overwhelmed, a little scared/nervous, excited, all of the above and more. But a part of me is worried that maybe it isn't these things, and I have a serious issue on my hands, and I'm trying so hard to snap out of it.

We'll see how the rest of this pregnancy goes. I'm worried that these first eleven weeks have been so tough. I have 27 weeks to go, basically. I mean, that's kind of terrifying. The up side is that I did not throw up today! I felt like I was going to twice, but I did not. I was able to just breath through it. My reward was raging heartburn for the next seven hours. Which sounds horrible, but this reminds me of when I was pregnant with Olivia and that? That I can deal with. Though no antacid helps it all, I can at least function feeling like my entire chest is on fire. I'd take that over vomiting several times a day.