Believe in the Flowers.

Carol of the Zombie Jesus!

I believe that my dear friend Christy said it best, that in this wonderful season we whore ourselves out to get things we otherwise couldn't. I wouldn't go quite that far, but the statement is true enough to be applied here.

A week ago we were served with a notice stating that we had five days to pay off over $900 to our landlady; if we couldn't, our lease would be terminated. The thought of being homeless at Christmas with two little kids is absolutely terrifying, but we got our obligatory miracle and were able to pay off enough to satisfy them for now. It's a temporary fix, obviously, as we still do owe rent, but for now we aren't losing our house, and that's an improvement. I'm learning that life is very much about doing things one at a time and being patient, and I think I can be okay with that.

I also spent two very painful days off of my meds. For the record, I take 20mg a day of Lexapro, which is for depression and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder). I am one of many moms who are breastfeeding through antidepressants, and I would like to take this opportunity to remind all people that post-partum depression is very real, very painful, and needs to be treated, be it through medication or therapy or both. There is absolutely no shame in admitting that you need help, no matter what anyone else says. It's crucial that we keep reminding ourselves as mothers and women that we deserve to be happy and safe, too, and that part of maintaining that happiness and a sense of safety is admitting our need for assistance.

With that PSA over, let's move on. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the holiday season, as I've worked in retail for years now and have experienced the lowest points of humanity (think Black Friday). The crazies come out at this time of year, the people who otherwise hide in their padded cells all year. These are the people that will do anything they need to in order to save a couple of bucks, even if it means absolutely reaming an innocent employee or causing a massive amount of havoc. I have no idea how these people can sleep at night, knowing they've left an already-frazzled worker close to tears from dealing with said customer. The Christmas season proves, more than any other, that there are far too many psychotic soulless people out there. Remember that, next time you hassle an employee. They're human too!

For now, that's all. I'm posting from my phone, and it isn't comfortable or easy to type this much with your thumbs. I hope the holidays are finding all you relatively sane people happy, healthy, and in good cheer.

Things in this household have been nuts.

We're making progress in small places. Gabe has been without a binkie for about a month now, and it only took about four days or so for him to more or less stop asking for it. I think that's pretty impressive, considering it was a habit 2 1/2 years in the making, and that it was a 24 hour-a-day need before this. Something in his brain clicked, the binkies have been thrown away, and he is now bink-free. We went cold turkey, which actually worked better than I thought it would. Our next big hurdles are potty training and getting him to sleep in his own room. We're kind of slacking off on the first for the sake of the bink being gone, and for the second. We don't want to make him go through a lot of changes at once, especially since we're working through some pretty bad behavior issues at the moment. This will make night five of sleeping in his own room, and for the last four nights he has been accompanied by a parent sleeping on his floor next to his bed. As you can imagine, that is an uncomfortable endeavor. Tonight, because Colin is at his game night, and I have to stay out in this room with Alex, he's spending his first night in his room completely alone.

This is working, to a degree. The problem is that he's still awake, and every half an hour or so, he wanders out of his room to stand in the doorway to the kitchen and call to me. A minute ago he came out to tell me that he had farted. I appreciated this information, of course, but it really didn't do me any good and I couldn't exactly help him with anything. I congratulated him, put him back into bed, kissed and hugged him, and came back out as he begged me to hold him. Sigh.

Things are going a little better with Alex. This kid can sleep through anything, I think, and once he's asleep he spends five hours or so not particularly caring where he's sleeping or who he's sleeping with. In the playpen, on the floor, on the couch, alone in another room - it doesn't make much difference to him. A hurricane could sweep away the state and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't affect him in the least.

I wanted to exclusively breastfeed Alex, but unfortunately I've resigned myself to a half-and-half lifestyle. At night he's nursed and during the day I'll nurse him off and on, but most of his nutrition comes from formula now. I feel like an ass about this for a number of reasons, but at the moment I have a lot more to concentrate on. I hate the mantra of "happy mom, happy baby" because I feel like it's an excuse for me to not try harder to work through our numerous problems, but at this point, it's the truth for me: I can't handle the stress I'm putting myself through when it comes to breastfeeding. So for now our half and half lifestyle will suffice, we'll survive, and everything will be okay.

Our finances are still a mess, as usual. I'm pushing Colin to find a new job, but he's slacking off pretty hard with it. To add insult to injury, his computer bit the dust today, and neither of us are positive he can fix it. A new computer, or at least parts to fix an old one, were not budgeted into our tax refund money, so I can't even say that if he can wait until then, that we can fix things. We have a lot of bills to pay off and other things that need to be purchased (like new glasses and shoes for him) before we can toss a computer onto the list. I'm going to see what I can do, but other obligations obviously will be dealt with first, and I hope that will be okay with him.

Beyond that, I'm pretty much going insane over here. I've begun sorting out the baby clothes, trying to figure out what no longer fits Alex and can be put away, what currently fits him, what will fit him later but doesn't fit Gabe, what fits Gabe now, and what doesn't fit Gabe yet. It's dizzying, and I can't find space for everything, much less keep the piles and bags of clothes straight in my head. Add onto that the fact that I'm attempting to sort through the mountains of clothes that Colin and I have collected, and it's just a disaster waiting to happen. I want to eventually go through everything and throw away the junk, then donate what can be donated (or, you know, maybe sell it to a thrift store - there are a couple of good consignment shops around). I know we won't be having any more kids for a while still, but I'm loathe to get rid of the baby clothes. Partially it's sentimental, but really, it just comes down to the fact that I'm no good at getting rid of things I know I could maybe use later on. I'm a pack rat, so sue me!

Well, it's nearly 1 AM. Gabe's still awake, Colin's still gone, and Alex is still asleep (thankfully). Unfortunately, for me to go to sleep I'm going to have to move Alex and probably wake him up. Off to another night of changing a baby, consoling a preschooler, and sleeping sitting up so I can nurse a baby and pass out as a pathetic lump of person.

No, really, I am.

Some time has passed since the last time I had a chance to actually use my computer and do anything online. When we first moved into this house, we didn't have a usable phone line and thus had no internet access. We survived without this valuable asset for some time, and only within the last two weeks have we been lucky enough to not only fix the phone line (although if it weren't for internet access, that wouldn't matter much) and have our services turned back on. Unfortunately, my dearly beloved had the internet turned back on over the phone and paid some $80 for the return of services that I hadn't anticipated or budgeted, so we're more than a little behind at the moment. He considered it part of a birthday gift to himself - I considered it a smack in the forehead.

Meanwhile, we're still in the same house, still doing all right. The place is an absolute disaster area all the same, a lingering result of the changing weather (I swear it has been cold and cloudy/raining for a week now) and a week-long visit by several of my in-laws for a wedding. Now that they're gone, this place is still a lingering mess, and I'm God-only-knows-how-behind on dishes and laundry. Never mind the fact that we need trash stickers to put our trash out for the city to take, and those stickers happen to cost money, so we've a mountain of trash that can only be put out a few bags at a time. To say that I'm somewhat grossed out by this would be an understatement: it's absolutely disgusting, but there's very little I can do about it.

On the plus side, we've done some work (okay, mostly Colin did the work) and Gabe's room is actually livable, instead of just being a mess of a storage room for toys. It's a big change, and it looks really nice. There are shelves in there, a CD player/radio, and his chest of drawers, although there isn't anything in them yet. Oops. His clothes are still in the midst of being sorted, and since I have nothing to sort the too-small clothes into at the moment, it's a disaster. Everything here seems to be a disaster.

As for the kids: Alex is desperate to move. He smiles and coos but hasn't laughed yet. He's a grouchy, grumpy, gassy baby at the moment, and the "gassy" portion of this tends to cause the other two issues, in my opinion. He has nearly rolled himself over once. Our sleeping arrangements still consist of me on the loveseat in the living room with Alex either sleeping on his stomach on my chest, or laying on his back on pillows beside me, with me sitting up, when I nurse him at night. Gabe sleeps in the bed with Colin still. The number of things Gabe can say are amazing, and every day he adds another few words to his vocabulary. He has formed relatively complete sentences, is obsessed with the alphabet and counting, and is currently capable of using a computer better than most adults I know. He can turn on and shut off both of the computers, can play several games, and is a fan of Spore, Unreal Tournament 2004, and Hellgate: London. He can turn on music, and do things he probably ought not to do - including finding porn on Colin's computer and referring to it as "the Mommy game" (I assume this is because he sees women and, unless they have a name he's aware of, they are "Mommy"). Ahh, that's my boy.

So yeah, there's work to be done. Are we doing great? Eh, I wouldn't say "great". But nobody's dead yet, and that's good, right?

Assuming that I have any readers, of course; most have probably forgotten about or given up on me by now.

Baby #2, Alexavier Oliver Wendell, made his way into the world at 12:49 AM on July 23rd, 2009. He was 9 lbs, 2 oz and 20.5" long. He arrived sunny-side up, with his cord wrapped around his neck twice, and as purple as hell. He's doing fine now, although breastfeeding has been absolute hell, and the thrush problems I thought we had developed over a week ago have finally escalated to a point that I think health professionals will finally start listening to me and acknowledging that yes, I might have an idea of what I'm talking about, dammit. I've thus far had numerous useless suggestions and alternatives presented by both Alex's pediatrition and my OB's nurse, including the usage of nipple shells and the suggestion that I might simply be engorged and to pump first. Lo and behold, over a week later, his mouth is full of white gunk that won't wipe out. I'm desperate to discontinue the formula we've been supplimenting with, but I know that until this thrush problem has at least started to be dealt with, we will need to continue with it. We are fully moved into our new home, although we still can't afford it, and our old apartment has been completely demolished. It's strange to drive by the old place and see nothing but piles of bricks and stones and know that our living room once stood there, our back porch was once right there .. You get the point. It's disconcerting, as it was the first real place we'd had together where we were happy for any length of time, even if we were still broke and still typically screwed.

For now, I say goodbye - I'm on my mother's computer as we are not only without phones at our house but also without the Internet, and her poor laptop can't handle much anymore. I intend on trying to nominate her for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Wish me luck.

First, I promise that my absence hasn't been thanks to anything particularly interesting - certainly not thanks to the arrival of kid #2 (who seems to have decided that actually making his way into the world is far too strenuous of an activity to bother himself with; instead, he has signed a lease agreement with my uterus to remain there until preschool or thereabouts). At my last appointment, which was yesterday (I think?) my OB gleefully informed me during my first internal exam that I was 2 cm dilated, about 25% effaced, and that she was fairly sure she could feel his head (although he was "still high" and thus she couldn't be positive). I'd be lying if I said her joy wasn't lost on me - a mere two centimeters and a tiny amount of effacement, and a determination that she THOUGHT she could feel a head, was not particularly enough to keep me in a good mood. As of today, I am 39 weeks according to the due date given by my first ultrasound at about 24 weeks. My figuring (LMP dates) says July 16th, and the most recent ultrasound I had (a follow-up at 28 weeks because they couldn't get definitive pictures of his spine or brain thanks to bad positioning) said July 19th. So at the moment, I could be due right now, or be due the 12th of never and I'd never know any differently. Unfortunately, thanks to the kid's sheer size (I guestimated, at her behest, between 9 and 11 pounds; she giggled) she wants to start discussing induction possibilities at my next appointment next week, if I make it that long. I hope I don't, to be honest. It seems selfish, for sure, and I realize we still have a lot of things to complete at the house before it's livable and comfortable, but at the same time I'm starting to worry that my chances of an NCB are slipping away with every passing week. Here, a c-section is a guarantee of future surgeries for all children born to the unlucky mother, as the hospital has a strict ban on VBACs.

We have, however, moved. I won't get into the extreme details right now because to be honest, considering all of it still makes my head spin. Suffice to say that the majority of moving was completed in one night, with all of the big items - bed and desks included - making their way over in a single trip in a uHaul truck. It wasn't fun, and Colin worked his ass off.

When we have the internet back at our house, I'll update more - for now, know that we still have not had the new baby.

Namely, it is 5:30 AM AGAIN and for some reason I am up. I'd make some kind of sarcastic comment about the sunrise, but it has been raining for several hours on my end of things and as such the only thing that's visible is a bunch of nasty-looking gray that I'm assuming is supposed to be clouds. This irritation (DO NOT LIKE) has coupled itself with our leaky roof, meaning that now, instead of just having water running down our walls at the most inopportune times (like, say, when Colin has his computer plugged in and running), we also get this painfully obvious "drip" sound.

The dripping, you see, is from the ceiling of the floor above us. Dripping down onto the drop-ceiling tiles that we've been blessed with. Only, it's dripping down onto ONE tile in particular, and said tile is beginning to sag and look generally displeased with the water that is collecting on it.

Naturally, this tile is the one DIRECTLY ABOVE Colin's computer. If it fell I can only imagine the amount of disgusting, moldy, sitting water that will dump itself onto his monitor, keyboard, computer, power strip - you know, anything and everything useful and irreplacible. Not to mention all of the shit on his desk that I'm fairly sure he doesn't want drenched with moldy water.

The solution to this is, of course, to have someone come in and fix the roof. Except our lease technically ends today (although we're being given the "right" to stay until our house has, uh, flooring and appliances, imagine that) and the bank probably couldn't care less at this point if the house was crumbling on top of us, as long as it wasn't, you know, something they could get sued for. So instead of fixing the problem, we have a leaking ceiling. I would hate to think about what the floor above us looks like - I'm actually trying not to - and instead am focusing completely on the fact that THIS IS SO FUCKING IRRITATING.

I kind of want to scream and cry for a while.

Lastly, for today, everybody go add to the 1000+ notes of congratulations: Dooce had her baby. Marlo Iris Armstrong (MIA! Yes!) is a badass of a newborn who had the audacity to arrive ON HER DUE DATE. Seriously. She is one cute kid.

So a couple of days ago I started having some issues with swelling in my feet and ankles. This is incredibly normal for pregnancy, so I thought nothing of it. The next day I noticed that the swelling was capable of something called "pitting" - meaning that if I pushed a finger into my foot or ankle, I would leave a small indentation that remained for upwards of 30 seconds or so, or until I rubbed it out. Typically this is a sign to watch your sodium intake and monitor for further swelling elsewhere on your body (hands, face). By that night, I felt disgusting - a headache coupled with diarrhea and nausea that thankfully never turned into vomiting. I was exhausted and somewhat lightheaded, which led to me running to a local Hy-Vee to check my blood pressure (an unremarkable 130/62) - and at the behest of my husband and mother, the next morning I started making phone calls. It took the equivelant of several eons to finally get in touch with an overworked triage nurse who revealed to me, a couple of hours after the clinic I visit opened, that they were massively short-staffed. I was scheduled for an emergency appointment later that day with a doctor I had never seen or heard of, and told to keep my feet up and drink water until then.

My appointment was, at best, incredibly boring. I ended up waiting upwards of an hour just to be put back into an exam room, and once in, I had to wait another 45 minutes for the mystery doctor to show up. The highlight of my entire time there was when I attempted to give the obligatory urine sample and somehow managed to get my hand caught - resulting in the spillage of my own bodily fluids onto the back of my jeans. Sigh. I explained it away to the nurse who had been attending to me up until that point as nothing more than a simple accident - that I had put my pants down into a puddle of water on the floor in the tiny lab bathroom (the sink is directly next to the toilet in the world's best example of awkward positioning). I was too lucky that it didn't smell, and as soon as I got home I ripped my pants off and happily told Colin the same story I had told the nurse who had asked why I was trying to dry off my butt. Anyway, long story short, my blood pressure has not escalated to a dangerous point, despite my headaches and nausea. I drink plenty of water, so dehydration is not the cause. My heartrate is somewhat elevated, around 100 beats per minute, but my urine is clear of protein. Unfortunately, my feet are still swollen and a lot of the problems I started out with the other day still exist and are actually worse to some extents.

But none of this explains my frustration.

When I spoke to the doctor I saw, she told me that if I truly didn't feel well, and since the swelling and pitting was likely not going to go away, then other than a good pair of support hose the best I could do was stop working. My work conference call was switched from this morning to last night, so I emailed my supervisor to inform him that I would be stopping work earlier than expected. Of course, I'm an idiot and didn't give him a clear indication as to WHEN, but I thought I had implied that it would be ASAP - meaning that though I was scheduled to work today, I wouldn't be showing up to do so. My boss said last night on the call that he and I would discuss it today at some point, but gave no indication as to when, exactly. So I emailed him. No response. Called him this morning, left a voice mail, no response. Now I am stuck - do I go into work anyway today since I'm still technically scheduled and risk getting in trouble for having gone in if he has already removed me from the payroll temporarily, or do I not go in and risk getting in trouble because I was supposed to? I'm going to try to call him once more, but it has been agreed between Colin, my mother, and I that if I can't get a hold of him, I'm going to work this evening.

So, yes, I am frustrated - very frustrated. Sigh.