A Week from Hell

Last week was one of those weeks. You know the kind. It all started at 4:30 am Monday morning. I had decided I needed to find a way to start fitting more exercise back into my life, so I signed up for a Boot Camp class. At 5:00 am, as in the morning, three days a week. I know, I know, what was I thinking? I was thinking I didn't want a big ass but after completing a week and a half of the class, I am thinking a big ass looks good.

It really is an hour of complete unpleasantness. The first class was held inside the YMCA gym and all I will say is 1) I wanted to cry 2) I almost threw-up several times and 3) I actually rested my face against the wall of the gym hoping the cold brick wall would help prevent me from either throwing up or passing out (same concept as laying on the bathroom floor.) It was hard. Good hard, but really, really hard. I loved it and hated it all at the same time.

The bad part (yes, worse than waking up at 4:30 am) is that I can hardly move my limbs without mentally thinking about making them move and then being in excruciating pain. I have never consumed so many Advil in my entire life. But you know what they say, it is a good pain. Clearly that was said by someone who has never felt this kind of pain. No pain, no gain my big fat ass.

Anyway, it is a 7 or 8 week class and I am praying to the sweet baby Jesus my ass is smaller when it is over. *Please Lord*

As if that wasn't bad enough, Jack started really complaining about his ears hurting him (the same ears we had checked at the doctor the week before and he was prescribed an antibiotic for.) The meds were obviously not working properly since his ear was oozing GREEN. Just an FYI when your child's ear is leaking green fluid something is very, very wrong. So back to the doctor we went only to discover he had a swimmers ear infection on top of his regular ear infection. Apparently his ears are very hospitable and all the infections want to party in them. So we started antibiotic ear drops and holy hell you would have thought I was ripping his ears off the way he screamed when we put these drops in. It was not a fun few days.

That brings us to Thursday (I know it is the longest week ever, I warned you.) I came home from work to find Joey a wheezing mess. Even after his nebulizer treatment I could tell he was struggling to breathe a little. He went right to bed that night only to wake up a few hours later LOSING HIS MIND. He was going ape shit and so fitful and restless and the screaming. Yowzers the screaming was annoying. So after yet another neb treatment he still looked like he had just finished running a race. The panting was bad so off to the ER we went. After 3 hours in the ER we were admitted.

Joey's asthma was in rare form and no matter how many treatments we did he still couldn't keep his oxygen saturation levels up. It was pretty scary having to see his little chest work so hard to breathe. We got cozy in the Pediatric unit at Elmhurst Hospital where we had the greatest (truly the most lovely) nurses care for us. These people made this stay bearable. We went in on Thursday and didn't get to leave until Sunday at lunch time. Joey was such a good boy considering he was basically given oral steroids twice a day with breathing treatments that are like speed every 2 hours. He was all jacked up and by Saturday afternoon the roid rage was in full affect. Someone took my mostly sweet, sometimes naughty 2 year old and turned him into Satan himself. Good times had by all. Like I said, the nurses were saints.

He is doing a lot better since we've been home. Still on steroids and breathing treatments so we will have to see how he does as we cut back on the drugs. Thankfully, while I was holed up with Joey in the hospital, Jack's ears got much better. They aren't even oozing anymore...yay! I got home Sunday just in time to get to bed so I could get up at 4:30 am and start the week all over again.

Sometimes, hell most times, being a grown up sucks.

The Million-Dollar Question

To have another baby, or not. This is the million-dollar question. I sure wish I could come up with an answer. I always assumed that I would get to the point where I knew, really knew for sure, I was done having kids. Not a doubt in my mind that this body would ever birth another baby. I did think that, for a long time. I remember the feeling coming over me as I sat in my OB’s office. I was a little over 6 months pregnant with Joey (my second baby) and already the premature labor was starting. I was scared and tired and really sick of the contractions. It was as I sat there wearily, my big belly sticking out, filled with a baby I already loved more than I could stand that my doctor let the words slip from his mouth. “If the baby is born this early, he will most likely not survive.”  My heart slowed with every word he said. I understood, but did not comprehend.

I remember the talk my doctor gave me as I was laying in my hospital bed in labor with Jack. It was the first day of my 34th week. As I struggled to focus and breathe through the contractions he explained to me what to expect when giving birth to a premature baby. He might not breathe or cry. He would be small and red. There would be a team (by team he meant more people than I imagined) waiting for him while I was delivering. I was pushing and counting and praying and they were busy setting up the isolette and tubes and monitors. He explained that once he was born, they would take him and depending on how he was I would see him just as soon as possible. I would not hold him first.

He was born and instantly cried. I will never in my life forget what that cry did to me. I knew in that moment he would be okay. He was wisked away, but I did get a moment to snuggle him before he was put in the NICU. He never stayed with us in our room and was only brought in for a few minutes at a time to attempt to feed him. Thankfully he only needed help breathing for an hour or so after he was born, but he didn’t know how to eat. The sucking and rooting reflex babies have develops after week 34 so he had to have a feeding tube in his nose. We would then push breast milk through the tube using a syringe. Everyday he grew stronger and we were able to let him try to take a bottle but it was so hard for him and he would quickly get tired and sleep instead of eat. 


I remember when they told me I had to go home and that he couldn’t come with me. He was not strong enough to be released and needed to stay in the NICU. Leaving the hospital without your baby is the most unnatural thing a mom can do. I sobbed the entire way home certain that something would go wrong, that he would need us, and we wouldn’t be there. He spent 2 weeks in that NICU. I spent all day there rocking him and caring for him surrounded by the greatest nurses and neonatologist any parents could ask for. These people helped Jason and I survive being away from our sweet boy.

It wasn’t the best situation. No one wants to have a premature baby who has to spend time in a NICU, but (and this is a big BUT) we were so lucky! Jack was healthy and strong and he eventually came home. He was perfect.

So as I was sitting there that day, my OB explaining my contractions and dilation, I remember thinking I would not survive it if I lost him. Him, the baby I felt wiggle and roll all day long. The baby who I saw pictures of every week or so on ultrasound. I knew him. If he didn’t make it through this, if my body failed on us, I would surely not survive it.  So I told myself I would do everything they said. I would try it all. The bed rest, the progesterone shots, the horrible drugs to stop labor, the steroids for the babies lungs, I would do it. But after all this, I would never do it again.

I told Jason it was too hard. I was healthy and still my body was constantly going into labor and we had to be always fighting back. It was beyond stressful and tiring and painful (contractions for months is NOT FUN.) Here I was this expecting mom with an almost 2 year old and I couldn’t carry him or pick him up. I couldn’t put him in his crib or the car or the bathtub. It was hard on us all.

The day Joey finally fought hard enough and made it clear he was going to be born I was in my 35th week. I knew what to expect because we had done it before. This time we had the steroids to help develop his lungs and we were prepared for the NICU and all the heartache that came with a premature baby. But it was different this time. He was so big and strong and screaming! I was the first to hold him.


He spent one night in the NICU because he needed help breathing on and off (even with those shots) but he was able to nurse and could eat just fine. He was so tough, our little man. After it was all over, all I could think of was how worth it he was. How all of the doctors visits, hospital stays, tests, shots and contractions, were worth it, worth him.

I go back and forth. I am happy and content with my boys with our family. They keep Jason and I busier than we have ever been. We are also more tired and frustrated by the overall job of parenting than I was prepared for. It is hard work and not just sometimes but most of the time.  There is also the best part of it to consider. The loving them so much I can’t stand it part. They are beautiful, smart, funny, loving, (sometimes naughty) little people. How could I not want another one?

How do you know when you are done having kids, when you won’t look back in 5 or 10 years from now and wish you would’ve had just one more? Then the other part of me thinks why risk it. Why go through all that worry again when I have a great family. I don’t need to get greedy. I just wish I knew for sure, 100% with no doubts.

Camping Craziness

Last weekend we went camping up by my Dad’s place in Wisconsin. He has a whole bunch of land up there where we (my family and my sisters families) are fortunate enough to be able to go spend some time. It is a win-win. I get to see my Dad, who I wish I could see more, and my kids get a chance to spend some time with their Grandpa doing “boy stuff.” Which really just means peeing on things outside and getting dirty.

He has quite the setup up there equipped with his camping trailer, which includes a shower, flushing toilet, kitchen and satellite TV. This is how my Dad does camping. Not too shabby. For the visitors that venture up, he also has a pop-up camper. This is where my family stays (while utilizing his bathroom & kitchen facilities.) It is by no means “roughing” it. The camper had better air conditioning than parts of my house, but it is really as much like camping as I am interested in getting with a 4 & 2 year old.

My Dad also has several ATV’s, including one small one perfect for a kid Jack’s size to ride, and a pontoon boat that made our hot Saturday more enjoyable being on the lake. All in all it wasn’t a bad way to spend the weekend.

Here are a few highlights:

On our way up north, I was using a public restroom (aka hovering while peeing) and I decided to pitch my gum in the toilet. Fast forward 10 minutes later when I am standing in line at Subway ordering Jason a sandwich and I am confused as to what is sticking to the crotch region of my pants. It takes me a few seconds and then I realize. My gum is stuck to the inside of my leg / crotch and jeans. Fantastic. Keep in mind I am in a public oasis that is packed with travelers and there is no way I can just stick my hand down the front of my pants to investigate. This resulted in me having to drop my pants in the front seat of the car and proceed to have to rip the gum off my leg/crotch region. Only someone with my luck can get their own gum stuck to their own crotch.

Me to Jack: I just saw 10 deer on my 4-wheeler ride. Want to go see if they are still there?
Jack: You mean like Bambi but without the hunter guys trying to kill them?
Me: Umm. Yeah, just like that.
Moral: Disney movies are not always a good idea. Damn Bambi killers!

Dad: [Noon-is on Sunday] Wow, I can’t believe none of the boys have hit anything on that 4-wheeler yet. I thought for sure someone would’ve hit something.
[Less than 5 minutes later]
Jack: [loud bang and crying]
Jason: What happened?
Jack: I hit the tree.
Moral: If you say it out loud it will happen!

While taking the kids for a 4-wheeler ride through my Dad’s “forest” (think fairly skinny trail lined with tree’s and branches and me operating a not-so-skinny ATV) I pulled up to Jason who was cutting some tree branches. Joey was riding up in front of me and while Jason and I were talking he takes hold of the handlebars and hammers down the throttle. I have never seen my husband move so quickly in his life (thank God) and I ended up grabbing the brake and stopping us a few inches from a large tree. Perhaps this is why the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend letting 2 year olds ride on ATV’s. THEY MIGHT KILL THEIR PARENTS.

The car ride home through WI took entirely too long. The kids were as whiny as they could be, we listened to the movie Up for what felt like forever and Joey kicked my seat 4 of the 5 hours we were in the car while continually yelling “Mommy. Mom. Momma. Mommmeeeee!” Until I finally threatened to drop him at the fire station if he didn’t SIT QUIETLY IN HIS SEAT! The boys spilled their drinks, their fries and dropped every toy I gave them.  To make this car ride even more memorable Jason decided to give the boys a lesson on driving.

Jason to Boys: Boys, this is how you merge when you drive in IL. You start down the ramp towards the highway going no less than 10 mph over the posted speed limit. You keep moving never looking to the left to see what is coming. You don’t want to be like these Wisconsin drivers with their heads turned around backwards to see what’s coming. You just keep driving and move right in. That is how you merge on to the highway.

The boys never even acknowledged he was talking. My fear is that they missed this life lesson and will not know how to properly merge on the highway.

Besides all that (oh yeah and my sister’s camper starting on fire on the drive home) it was exactly as a family camping weekend should be.

Thanks to my Dad for the generous hospitality. xoxo

Dreamy

Last week we were on our family vacation. Each year we go to a cottage in Michigan, right on Lake Michigan. It is a place I dream of year round and can’t wait to get to each summer. Jason has been going to this same place since his grandparents brought him there as a child. We have been lucky enough to carry on this tradition and share this little piece of heaven with our boys.

Sunset from the beach.

 "Big Red" Lighthouse

There is so much to do there and my boys have quickly learned to love this place, like Jay & I do. The beach is always amazing and the sand was the perfect place to build castles and make-believe that dragons live within them. The water was surprisingly warm for Lake Michigan and made wave jumping and swimming enjoyable at all hours of the day or early evening.


Jack  

Joey  


There was fishing and ducks to watch and boats that sailed by, even the occasional barge or ship creating eyes as big as saucers on the boy’s faces. Mouths open wide they’d stare in amazement as the ships horn would blow echoing through their little bodies. They adored their Spider Man fishing poles and even caught a few fish!
 Lauren and the boys with the Great Catfish 
 (caught with the Spiderman pole)

I personally can’t get enough of the beach. I love to sit and read, feet buried in the sand, listening to the whoosh of the waves breaking on the shore. Having the boys there, laughing and playing with me, makes it all the more perfect. I love to daydream about living in a little cottage all summer long, writing a book and listening to the endless hours of laughter falling from my boy’s mouths. It is like a dream, this place.

But sadly, like all dreams, there is still reality. This year the reality was more real than the dream. I knew better than to bring the reality of our lives with me because once it was there it ruined my dream. I still enjoyed every minute of the time I had with Jason and our boys (making going back to work Monday morning hard on us all.) As always we were never without our usual craziness but the four of us together felt great.

I will continue to dream about this place all year and look forward to our summer vacation again next year. I will just recall this year and remember my dreams and leave reality at home.

Change

Sometimes change is subtle, sneaking up on you when you least expect it. It slowly creeps in and makes itself comfortable before you even realize it is there happening to you. I feel like this change, the bad change,  is the sneaky kind. You never hear anyone complaining about the good changes.

It is like everything is fine one minute and different the next. You can't be quite sure when it happened or even what happened. You just know things aren't the same. I have a memory of how things were. If there is one thing I am good at it, it is remembering. This is a past-time that could consume me. The phrase "remember when.." is one I say and think often. My memories are precious and when things change I feel like part of them is taken. Stolen away from me, lost forever.

There have been some unwelcome changes I have learned to accept. It is not this change that I worry about. It is the slowly but surely change that finds its way in to the nooks and crannies of my life. The things that once were are not anymore. The sweet moments are less and less, changing a little here and there. It is this change that makes me uncomfortable in my own skin. It makes my heart race and my stomach ache. It is the kind of change you keep telling yourself isn't happening, only because you know in your heart it is. It is stealing my memories. My perfect moments.

It is said change is inevitable. That you will die trying to stop things from changing. I am wondering at what point do the things changing around you actually change you? Change who you are and what you feel. Once it starts sneaking in and stealing what's yours can you get it back? Can you steal your moments back and save them, stopping these changes from becoming reality? I hope so.