February 04, 2014

One year later

So, you're cool if I only post once a year, aren't you? (echo... echo... echo...) I have abandoned my blog, not for lack of interest but lack of time. Mental disorganization plays a big role, too. There are so many thoughts in my head competing to be priority #1 that I can scarcely express myself at times. Becoming a mom has messed with my brain.


Don't get me wrong, I don't regret motherhood at all. I just miss my mind. At least it served me well while I had it. I think it did, anyway. I don't really know. I forget.


Right now it's kindergarten registration time. That's tougher than it sounds. I am juggling multiple contingency plans as I try to navigate through the catch-22s of poorly aligned education and daycare systems. Someday Kai will laugh at me when he hears how much I stressed out over arranging a junior kindergarten placement. He'll have no idea unless he becomes a parent -- nay, a mom, which isn't likely.


I need a break, a massage, a vacation, a stiff drink, a whole whack of me-time. I won't get most of those things. Understand this, though: I wouldn't trade parenthood for anything.



February 04, 2013

Boring as hell to you...

...but vitally important to me. Here, in no particular order, are things I love about Kai, things Kai has done that made me laugh, and things I hope I'll never forget about Kai's toddlerhood.

At two
Kai went through a phase of "five" fanaticism. The number five was the best number. It was worth watching the clock-radio display until a five showed up -- or, better yet, TWO fives! For several consecutive weeks, every single night after finishing his bedtime bottle Kai would twist around to stare at the clock, remarking excitedly whenever the numbers changed.

Kai occasionally enjoys being playfully contrary. If I say something is high, he'll say it's low. If I say dark, he'll say light. When I told him he was a big boy he corrected me, saying, "I'm a LITTLE boy. A CUTE little boy."

One day our ketchup bottle sputtered as I squeezed it over Kai's dish. We don't have ketchup often, but whenever we do Kai will remind us that "Ketchup toots."

At 26 months
I administered ear drops and Kai's reaction was to inform me that "It pops in my ear.... like a balloon." I don't know if that's word association or a comparison or maybe a simile, but I'm thrilled that my two-year-old can make it.

The first time Kai encountered egg salad was at my parents' home. His reaction: "Nana, what stinks?"

Kai paused during dinner, reached across the table toward Scott and said, "Hug Daddy! Daddy too far!" Scott obligingly stood up and moved within reach. As Scott opened his arms for a hug, Kai turned his attention back to his plate and said, "I'm eating, Daddy."

At two and a half
Actual conversation with Kai:
Kai (eyes watering): Poop.
Me: Are you pooping?
Kai: Yes. (grunts) It's a hard poop, Mommy.
Me: Tell me when you're done and I'll change your diaper.
Kai: Change my diaper, Mommy.
Kai (in a fresh diaper): I want to eat prunes in my rocking chair.

Kai has reached a stage where he spontaneously tells me that he loves me. I found it heartwarming... until we pulled into an Esso station and he exclaimed, "I LOVE gas!" Nice to know that I'm right up there with petrol.

Kai was studying the word "Minigo" on his yogurt container and, turning it upside down, he remarked that the small "g" looked like a 6. He then asked where the seven was. I said, "There's no seven, Kai. You're looking at the 'g' upside down so it _looks_ like a 6, but there are no numbers on your yogurt." Kai pointed at the expiration date – June 7 – and said, "There it is!" As I praised him for his keen eyesight and observation skills, he said, "YOU were talking about NO seven." I'm surprised that he wasn't shaking his head at me in exasperation.

After a diaper change, Kai decided that he did not want to wear pants or socks. Since it was comfortably warm in the house, I obliged. When I asked him shortly thereafter if he wanted a hot dog for lunch, he replied, "I want a hot dog with no pants and socks. I want to eat a hot dog in my diaper."

My usual term of endearment for Scott is "sweetie." Evidently this has not escaped Kai's notice. Recently, while I was clearing the dishes, I heard Kai call to me from the dining room, "Sweetie, take me out of my high chair."

We tend to shop at Loblaws, which Kai pronounces "Bloblaws." One day we opted instead to go to the appropriately named No Frills. For those who are unfamiliar with the chain, its logo features a pair of bananas. Kai had been pleased about the prospect of grocery shopping, but when we pulled into the No Frills parking lot he exclaimed in horror, "Not the banana store! I want to go to Bloblaws!" Much to my surprise, Scott pulled out of the parking lot and headed straight to Loblaws. It turns out that Scott hates the banana store too.

One day Kai's daycare phoned me at work to report that Kai was sick. When I arrived at the daycare to bring Kai home, I found him sitting on the floor with flushed cheeks and red-rimmed eyes. Staff told me that he had been lying on the floor most of the morning, had a slight fever and was so congested he was struggling to breathe. As I bundled Kai up in his hat, mittens and winter jacket, he asked where we were going. I explained that I had come to take him home since he wasn't feeling well. He was quiet while I strapped him into his stroller and wheeled him out the door and across the yard of the daycare. As we passed through the gate onto the street Kai yelled out, "Yay! I'm better!"

At 34 months
At my niece's birthday party there was a small bouncy castle that could safely fit about four children. To facilitate turn-taking, my brother would ring a small handbell every few minutes so that the jumping kids would know to come out and allow the next group of kids to go in. Kai was eager for his turn. When he spotted the handbell unattended he ran over, rang it, and quickly returned to his place in line. Sure enough, it worked.

I usually read Kai two stories as part of his bedtime routine. The other evening I decided to make up my own story. I began, "There once was a wonderful boy named Kai." Kai interrupted, saying, "I don't want to talk about me." As you can see, that makes one of us.

October 20, 2012

WTF, WHO?

The World Health Organization (WHO) really ought to know better. Or, perhaps they aren't as "with it" as I had believed. I was shocked to learn that WHO only removed homosexuality from their list of mental illnesses in 1990. It's 2012: Time to wake up and realize that trans people aren't sick, either. Won't you sign this petition?


September 09, 2012

Two

Today, Kai turned two. I was unable to prepare any sort of celebration, as, true to my nickname, I have hurt myself again and I am laid up with a bad back. Nevertheless, Kai did have the chance to enjoy a birthday cupcake.


Kai is wonderful. Sure, he is already a typical two-year-old, with tantrums and a premature sense of independence, but that's just one facet of his blossoming character. He's an observant, polite, funny, affectionate, bright and happy little boy. Earlier today, while at my parents' house, he began walking down the street. My dad asked him where he was headed. Kai replied, "Park. Hurry." I might not have been able to give him a party, but he knows how to make his own fun.

Kai can count and he has been reciting the alphabet for quite some time. His vocabulary and comprehension amaze me. He is able to connect concepts, remember details and express himself to a degree far beyond what I would expect for his age. My capacity for loving him knows no bounds. I love watching him play, try new things, and squeal with joy; I love holding him and reading to him; I love seeing him off to sleep at night.

Happy birthday, my dearest boy.

August 07, 2012

Peek-a-boo!

I was going to use this post to bitch about the fact that things have gone from bad to worse, with another daycare crisis and both my job and Scott's in jeopardy, but I decided that complaining wouldn't make my remaining few readers happy to see a new post from me. I'll come up for air again once things are looking up (hoping that this will actually happen after such a long run of rotten luck).

May 12, 2012

The past several months...

...have been extremely trying. I haven't felt like posting anything depressing so I haven't posted at all. I might not post again until I see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, enjoy some randomness from the few images that happen to be on my computer at the moment.

My cute dogs after a much-needed bath


A porn shoot visible from my workplace


Static


Concentration, effort, pride


Kai's Tim-Burton-esque creation


Sleeping Beauty (Haven) and Rapunzel

And that's all she wrote.

March 11, 2012

The Reverse Cassandra Curse

As regular readers know (if there's such a thing as regular readers to such an infrequently updated blog), I take anti-depressants. Long before I was diagnosed with depression, I recognized my tendency toward pessimism. It has taken years for me to teach myself to think positively, to count my blessings, to view the glass as half full, etc., etc., etc. Now I can be so optimistic that I'm practically a Pollyanna. Unfortunately, this approach seems to be backfiring. Every time I say something positive, the opposite happens. Scott and I first noticed this phenomenon several years ago when we were driving somewhere with young Ferris in the back of our vehicle. I remarked that we were fortunate that Ferris was never car sick. Barely a second passed before Ferris vomited. Scott blamed me. Since that time, it feels as though the majority of my optimistic observations have been immediately contradicted by reality. It has come to the point where Scott will scold me whenever I make a positive remark. I feel like I have some twisted version of Cassandra's curse.

Cassandra n.
1. Greek Mythology. A daughter of Priam, the king of Troy, endowed with the gift of prophecy but fated by Apollo never to be believed.
2. One that utters unheeded prophecies.

This reverse curse of mine doesn't apply only to things I have spoken aloud but even to things that I have blogged. Take my last post, where I cheerfully revealed that Kai's daycare dilemma was solved and that he was with a new care provider whom he loved. It wasn't long after I clicked "Publish post" that the provider announced that she will be switching careers. I now need to find poor Kai his fourth childcare placement. I have been having very little luck.

Another example regards my career. I was excited about the upcoming relocation of my workplace to an office closer to my home. Most of my coworkers were dreading the move, as the new building is in an area with few amenities. I tried to cheer them up by pointing out the positive aspects of the new space. I was also concentrating my daycare search along the route to my new office. While I was still unhappy that Kai was going to have yet another change, I was trying to view it as an opportunity to find a more conveniently located placement for him. My positive thinking was punished by the recent announcement that I was not, in fact, going to be moving along with the rest of the branch. Instead, three of my colleagues and I are being separated from our team and being redeployed downtown to the (sorry -- retching a little here) legal department.

I can't express how upsetting it is to be torn from a warm and fuzzy social-worker-filled team and thrown into a group of... of... I can't even type the word. Let's just say that there are many, many jokes about people in that particular profession. After our director delivered the news, she stood up and said, "I'll leave you to be together now; it's what you do so well." She left the room hurriedly before the tears welling up in my eyes could spill down my cheeks. I looked around and discovered that I wasn't the only one crying. My poor supervisor was in even worse shape than I was; she had been sitting on the news for two days and hadn't been able to say anything to us.

While all of the work groups under our employer are called "teams," ours epitomizes the word. We are close and united. We are a very small group that for many years has gone unnoticed by the 900 or so other employees in our organization. We were quite happy that way. Without going into too much detail, I will say that we provide a service that is extremely valuable to our clients, and that we deliver sometimes very difficult information in a sensitive, humane manner. A few years ago the government drafted legislation that we feared was going to negatively impact our clients. We were vocal. We contacted our sister agencies and we mobilized. We advocated. We made presentations to government representatives. We felt like we were making some headway, and as the legislation developed we noticed that some of our concerns were being addressed. Our two-year battle was paying off. I was feeling optimistic. Stupid me.

On the very day the legislation was to be enacted, it was repealed due to a court challenge. The act that eventually replaced it had a few improvements, but overall it was a disaster. To make matters worse, it was so vague that none of the agencies knew how to interpret it. We asked the government. They told us to consult our legal departments for interpretation. Unfortunately, we did. That put us on the legal department's radar, and it all went downhill from there. Now they are absorbing us and, we predict, stripping us of our warm and fuzzy social-worker-influenced approach to our jobs. There are many motives at play, some political, some budget-related, some strategic. The official justification purports that the change will streamline certain services, but my teammates and I do not believe that our clients' needs were taken into consideration at all. We certainly weren't consulted, and with decades of experience between us we know our clients very well.

After the initial shock of the news wore off, I began trying to view this mess in a positive light. Given my curse, however, I realized that optimism was probably the worst approach. I decided to embrace my disappointment and anger instead. At our very last staff meeting as a team, I was responsible for bringing treats. I was bitterly happy to do so.

Click to enlarge

I might as well use humour while I'm still permitted to do so. I have visited the legal department; it is quieter than a library and as solemn as a morgue. The staff sit silently in their cubicles and offices hunched over their keyboards, not looking up to greet visitors or even to offer a smile. On the upside -- no, I'm not going to make that mistake. There is no upside, there are no advantages, nothing is good, everything is awful, and my life is doomed. (Now can something go right?)

January 20, 2012

Drawn and quartered.

"So, October sucked. How was your month?"

That's how an early-November post would have begun, had I found the time to complete it. Instead, it's how this mid-January post begins. Allow me to fill you in.

At the beginning of October, just two weeks after my maternity leave ended, the couple with whom Scott and I were sharing a nanny decided to pull out of the arrangement. They did it suddenly, by email, in a decidedly nasty manner. These were people we considered friends. We had gone out to dinner together, had them over for meals, and regularly exchanged friendly comments over facebook. They had shown no signs that anything was wrong. In fact, I don't think that anything was wrong. It appeared that they had come into a large amount of money. Had they simply told us that their circumstances had changed and that they no longer needed to share a nanny, we would have accepted it, wished them well, and used the eight weeks of notice specified in our agreement to make new child-care arrangements. Instead, they coldly and without reasonable explanation announced that they would be terminating the agreement in just four weeks.

In Toronto there is a very long wait for quality day care, especially for children under 18 months of age. We were in a jam. As well, our nanny was blindsided by the announcement that she would soon be out of work. She knew that Scott and I couldn't afford to keep her on our own, and her husband convinced her to avoid future nanny-share situations since this one had proven to be unstable. Those final four weeks of the agreement were extremely uncomfortable for her, as the other couple refused to discuss the issues and their usual cheerful countenance was replaced with a stern, business-like manner. She was hurt and upset by their behaviour, as was I. Various friends and family members suggested egging the other family's house, keying their new car or leaving a burning bag of dog excrement on their doorstep. I realized that, as satisfying as such actions might have been, they were unlikely to solve our dilemma. We would soon be needing affordable child care and our nanny would soon need a job, but our budget couldn't stretch to meet her salary requirements.

Thankfully (we thought), our nanny's requirements shrunk to fit our budget. After about two weeks in limbo, our nanny proposed that she continue to care for Kai, once the nanny-share arrangement was over, at a rate that Scott and I could (just barely) afford. We knew it was going to be tough financially, but Kai loved her to bits and she was excellent with him. We told her that we accepted her proposal and I drew up a contract. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to give her the contract right away, as Kai became ill and I kept him home with me for a week. (Kai was lethargic, wheezy and inconsolable following a third trip to the ER due to RSV and bronchiolitis.) In spite of the rough time our little family had been experiencing, I was optimistic. I knew that Kai would soon be feeling well again, and I was pleased that he would still have his beloved nanny looking after him once the other family was no longer involved.

Sure enough, by the end of the week Kai was doing much better. I, on the other hand, started the weekend off with what felt like terrible cramps. I had no idea what was causing the pain. As it grew increasingly severe -- worse than labour -- I sent Scott out for Midol and GasX to cover a couple of possibilities. Nothing helped. I finally caved and asked Scott to bring me to an ER. Since I have already made a long story even longer than necessary, I will attach an image of my tweets to summarize the next few days. (For any non-tweeters out there, tweets are posted in reverse chronological order, just like blog posts.)

Yes, that tweet on the bottom is true: On our way to the hospital, we received a text message from our nanny informing us that she had found another job and that she would be moving on once our current nanny-share agreement had ended. It's amazing that I didn't have an aneurism right there and then in addition to my abdominal woes.

After a long wait in the ER I had an ultrasound and was admitted for observation and pain management. A surgeon woke me at two in the morning to say that I was suffering from an atypical hernia. A portion of my intestines was protruding between -- and being suffocated by -- the two halves of my large abdominal muscle. For that reason, it was imperative that I have surgery as soon as it could be scheduled, otherwise that portion of the intestines could die and I would require a bowel resection... or something like that; I was on heavy drugs. All I knew was that my problem was going to be resolved a.s.a.p. (which ended up meaning approximately 17 very long hours later).

The surgeon sliced along my horizontal C-section scar and also made a vertical incision from the centre of the first cut about halfway up to my navel, hence the title of this post. During my recovery some of the stitches tore and copious amounts of orange liquid ran out of the incision, grossing me out so much that I passed out. Once I recovered, I took photos. Would you like to see? Never mind; I would hate to scare off the few people still following this blog.

The morphine was unkind to me. It caused severe paranoia and muddied my thinking. I don't remember many details about my week-long stay in the hospital. What I do recall is:

-I pulled the sheet over my face and pretended to be a corpse while being pushed on a gurney to the O.R., but the porter looked less than amused by my display of poor taste.
-My I.V. pole had one squeaky, wobbly wheel, just like the cart I always end up with when I go grocery shopping.
-My I.V. pump was plugged into an outlet located above the bed next to mine, and I had to unplug it whenever I needed to go for a walk; I can only imagine how frightening it was for the neighbouring patient to see a hand coming through the curtain and pulling a plug near her head.
-There was always chatter and laughter and the rattling of casters in the hallway, and the infuriating beeping of monitors and pumps.

Since Scott still had to work, my parents helped out a great deal with Kai. Very kindly, they brought Kai to see me a couple of days after my surgery. Subsequently I emailed them the following message:

Oct. 20, 8:37 am
After the natural high of seeing Kai last night, I'm in rough shape this morning! I didn't get any pain meds overnight, I had disturbing dreams, my incision has bled a couple of times, my head hurts and I'm running a low-grade fever. I feel like the big bandage was removed too soon and that perhaps I wasn't ready to get up and walk after all. I don't believe the staff permit a patient's progress to go in reverse, however, so I might have no choice but to push myself. At least they can't make me push myself fast.

Bah. Telling the nurse about feeling crummy led her to send in someone to take my blood. Needles: not just for breakfast anymore.

Today's student nurse is Michael, who I could very easily picture excelling at pizza delivery. Don't you have to graduate from high school before you can work in the health-care field?

I'm actually glad that Michael is my student nurse. Some of my roommates have Zora, who appears to believe that all patients are hard of hearing and that punctuation is overrated. HELLO MY NAME IS ZORA IM YOUR NURSE HOW ARE YOU Everything she says sounds like an admonition. ARE YOU PASSING GASES (For shame.)

Michael just came back to ask me a couple of questions he had forgotten. As he did so, the no-nonsense cleaning lady came in with her mop and barked at him to get out of her way. He asked me about my eliminations as he hopped back and forth trying not to get his feet mopped. It's an interesting pecking order around here.

Another nurse just came in, saying that she's working with my (staff) nurse. She drew dots near my incision, saying, "Dot dot dot dot dot dot dot." Okay...

In spite of the pain, the surgery, the mind-warping medication and the fact that I was sharing a room with three other languishing patients and a lot of noisy equipment, I managed to remain lucid enough to make some calls and find Kai a space in a brand-new home day care. He loves it. His former nanny sometimes visits him there on her days off, so I forgive her for her ill-timed quitting-by-text.

For two months post-op I wasn't allowed to lift Kai. You can imagine how tricky it was to obey that. It was important, however, as Kai's weight was likely the cause of my hernia in the first place. After all, I had been carrying him around for most of the week prior to my hospitalization. Scott helped to lessen the trauma of not being able to pick up my own child by giving Kai the physical attention I was unable to provide. Every night he bathed Kai, dressed him in a sleeper and placed him in my arms so that I could give Kai his bottle and let him drift off to sleep. Scott would creep back into the room a while later to put Kai in his crib. In fact, Scott continues to do this, as lifting Kai over the rail of his crib is still painful for me.

So yes, October sucked, but I'm healing well, Kai is happy, we all enjoyed the holidays, and I now enjoy daydreaming about karma taking the form of a flaming bag of dog poo.