Monday, December 28, 2015

The New Adventures of Old Tina

I was out with my friend Whitney last night. I chose a bar where I could drink the kind of beer I wanted and also visit the bartender, Kat, another friend of mine. I have chosen certain Sunday nights as my time of the week to get away for a while and do the things that “old me” used to do. And also just to give myself a little bit of a break. This new life holds way more responsibilities than I’ve ever had and often times, I feel the need to get away from it, even just for a few hours. 

We had planned on taking time to write since it is difficult for me to do so these days, even though I have more to say now than I have in a long time. However, in true “catch-up” fashion, we simply talked, enjoyed a few beers and generally enjoyed each other’s company. 

As I was leaving the bar, I realized I wasn’t quite ready to go home. I thought maybe I’d go to the casino and play a little mindless Keno, maybe make a sports bet. I called Johnny to see if he wanted to make a bet as well. He didn’t sound bothered by the fact that I wanted to stay out longer, but he did sound distracted, like someone who has taken care of a baby all night and is now trying to get a few of his own things accomplished. I am quite familiar with that voice as I possess it frequently as well. 

So I hung up the phone and realized going home was a better idea. My breasts were beginning to get engorged from not feeding or pumping for a few hours and my wallet would be better off keeping the money it had inside of it. At least until I could find a more worthy place in which to spend it. I didn’t make the decision easily, I really wanted to go out. The immature child in me threw a bit of a tantrum as I drove past the street that leads to the casino and turned instead down the one in my neighborhood. 

I wasn’t mad at Johnny. Not at all. I often resent him for the time he spends away from the house doing his own thing, but it’s not his fault that I made the choice to come home. However, when it comes to our relationship, we are really shitty communicators. So when I came in, obviously frustrated with my decision to come home, and he asked what was wrong, I responded with a heavy “Nothing”. 

I assumed my post on the living room sofa and proceeded to pump my now very engorged breasts. He asked me again what my problem was and I responded with the fact that I was a little irritated that I had to come home to handle responsibilities when I really wanted to stay out and enjoy myself a little longer. 

“So, you’re irritated that we have a child?” he says. 

Like I said, VERY shitty at communication. 

Suspicious baby wants to know why
someone would ever imply that about him

* * *
Breast pump bag and work apron, new BFFs
This is my view at least four times a week for about 20 minutes during my shift. I stare at the back of the bathroom door and listen to toilets flushing everywhere around me while I use my manual breast pump to relieve myself before getting too engorged with milk. It’s a little better than the view of the brick wall in the parking lot that I look at while I pump in my car before and after my shift as well. At least in the car, I can listen to the radio. 

I would like to say how great I am doing. How amazing it is to be a mother. How I was so devastated to go back to work to leave my precious baby boy at home. How I miss him everyday so much that my heart hurts. I mean, this is how I’m supposed to feel, right? I’m not supposed to feel relieved when I finally get to leave the house by myself. Or when I get to stay longer at work. Or that occasional Sunday night that Johnny is home with the baby and I get to stare at that Keno machine for a while. I’m not supposed to enjoy these things. 

I got asked by someone the other day who hadn’t seen me in a while, “How does it feel to be a mom?” I responded back, “I’m not sure. I’m not really ‘momming’ yet. I’m just trying to keep him alive.” 

Recently, he’s been getting over his big fits, but generally speaking, I have a fussy baby. Not only is he fussy, he’s not a big fan of sleeping. This would make many people start up with the drugs that reduce these two inconveniences. However, I can tell that most of his fussiness comes from either being overtired or having gas. Neither of which I’m prepared to treat with anything but cuddles and bicycle legs. I know this is probably not the popular train of thought. But then, I never considered having a baby to be a vacation. And yes, I am concerned with him being comfortable. I’m also concerned with a learned behavior that feeling uncomfortable should immediately result in taking a pill or some other source of medication. So, I deal with my fussy baby and hope others can too. 

But it’s not easy. I wake up early, hang with baby for a few hours, mostly just trying to get things done around the house and get myself ready for work (a task that used to take 45 minutes to an hour and now requires the better part of two hours if I can’t get him to nap). I go to work and then pick him up after, where he is usually asleep at Grandma’s, wakes up on the 30 second drive home, screams like I’m skinning him for a good half hour and then proceeds to cry off and on for at least 2 or 3 hours before I can finally get him to fall asleep. By that time, I’m so exhausted myself that short of straightening up a little, I’m pretty much useless. 

When he is finally snoozing, I attempt to do the things that remind me of “old Tina”, like blogging, for example. But, like everything else these days, things that were really important to me in the past just find themselves shelved for indefinite periods of time. I really am waiting for my bathroom to finally just clean itself. I’m told miracles happen. 

I’m really not trying to sound like things are bad because that’s not what they are. They are just... different. And as someone who has sought massive quantities of change their entire life, I’m quite surprised at how difficult this new kind of different is. There’s so much to think about when you are trying to keep a tiny human alive. It’s challenging enough to make sure they know how to eat without choking and sleep without suffocating. What about when I have to teach them other things? Like learning how to count and how to handle social interactions? How do I make sure my child doesn't grow up to be insensitive? 

I’m told I over think things and that my life would be easier if I didn’t do that quite so much. Yeah, I’ll get right on that. Just as soon as I learn to stop breathing. 

So, yes, sometimes I’m irritated. I’m irritated that I can’t always make my baby happy. I’m irritated that I have to worry twenty-four hours a day about my milk supply. I’m irritated that my hair is falling out. My already thin hair, coming out in big chunks that they say is a side affect of the breastfeeding. I’m irritated that my relationship isn’t as strong as it could be. I’m irritated that I bought already made gnocchi and marinara sauce in a jar to have for dinner one night this week. I’m irritated that I’m at my pre-pregnancy weight but my clothes don’t fit right because of the different way in which my weight is distributed. I’m irritated that some drunk bitch at the bar called me fat. 

But most of all, I’m irritated that I can’t express my emotions at home without it turning into a power struggle or an opportunity for him to not-so-passively-aggressively question me as a parent. You know who tries to out-parent each other? Couples who have broken up. 

What I’m not irritated with is this perfect face that greets me every morning, laughs when I’m changing his diaper and tells stories while we sit together in the morning sunlight, preparing for the day. I’m not irritated when I pick him up from Grandma’s house, take him home and get my first cuddles in seven or eight hours (after the crying fit, of course). Nothing has been more successful in teaching me to live in the moment like the times he and I share together. 

It’s hard. I knew it would be. I just didn’t know how hard and I do my best to deal with it every day. As someone who has battled depression my whole life, I can tell you easily that having a baby does not close off those dark places where the emotions are so intense, it can be difficult to find my way out. However, he definitely forces me to find the light a lot quicker than anything else and for that, I do feel saved. 

I know “old Tina” isn’t really worth hanging on to but it’s always difficult saying goodbye to a friend you’ve known for so long. And being lonely sucks. But, hopefully the new year brings new ideas on how to like the new me as well as the new “us”. Old Johnny and Tina didn’t need to communicate so much. We just needed to drink. 

But no matter what happens, don’t ever question my love for you, Xander. It’s something that can’t be explained in words. I only hope with the years I have left, I am able to express even a small amount of what I hold in my heart for you. I’ll never give up on you. I only wish you will do the same for me.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Struggle Is Real

You see that phrase all over the place, don’t you? I like it. It can be funny, it can be serious, it can be a little bit of both (which I think it usually is). Mostly, however, it seems to sum up perfectly the feeling I’ve been having lately which is... 

What the fuck do I do with this new life?? 

I’ve been off work for a month now. I’ve got one month to go. I requested to take off twelve weeks and even had to battle with my benefits department to get it, knowing the whole time I wouldn’t be able to afford it. I actually can’t afford to take the eight weeks I’m attempting. I don’t know, maybe I thought a money fairy would leave a couple coins under my pillow here and there. She didn’t. The struggle is real. 

I live on my couch. I’ve done almost nothing but watch every episode of Say Yes to the Dress, Chopped and all the horror movie marathons in existence. In between the two thousand loads of laundry, that is. I basically just sit around, waiting for my tiny human to need me, which he will, I just never know when. 

I’ve finally started to venture out with him just to break the nerves of doing so. I went out a few times with my mom and then a few times this week on my own. A quick trip to Wal-Mart is now 45 minutes of prepping, feeding, dressing, packing, loading, checking, double checking and then finally going. I stress the entire time about how he will behave, what I will do if he loses his shit (both literally and figuratively) and then watch with white knuckles as he sleeps the ENTIRE TIME. The struggle is real. 

I experienced my first clogged duct in my breast a couple of weeks ago. It was red, swollen and hurt to the touch. The only cure is frequent nursing and pumping. It was the longest day I’ve had with him yet. Every time I put him to that breast, it was like someone was holding a blowtorch to my nipple. Tears ran down my face and my feet danced in pain as he happily drank away, with his perfect, strong latch. The struggle is real. 

I finally left him with my mom for a few hours last week while I went to happy hour with a friend. I was so excited to be out adulting for the first time since I found out I was pregnant. I drank two sangrias and probably four margaritas. Plus a beer beforehand. While it was fun, all I did when I got home was worry about my tainted breast milk. I pumped and stored in the freezer, with big labels of DO NOT USE until I could test the alcohol level to see if they were safe. I spent $20.00 on eight test strips that have yet to arrive so I can see whether I have to dump close to 20 ounces of “liquid gold”. 

When I picked up Xander from my mom that night and brought him home, his mouth immediately went to my shirt and I teared up, knowing I couldn’t feed him from the tap and warmed up a bottle of previously pumped milk. Breastfeeding my baby has become the most important thing that I do as a mom and I couldn’t do it because I may have had a few too many drinks. I definitely had some guilt that night. The struggle is real. 

I miss my friends but make excuses to stay home when I get invited out. The thought of taking a shower, getting ready, bringing Xander with me or even leaving him with my mom seems so much harder than just sitting here on my couch, staring at him. I’ve been in the same milk and spit-up stained tank top for three days now. I wore my hair down a few nights ago for a social engagement and my niece said to me “Auntie Nina, you don’t have a ponytail in!” The struggle is real. 

I had cookies for breakfast AND lunch yesterday. I made cupcakes for a family gathering using cake prep in a box and pre-made frosting. The struggle is real. 

For the most part sleep hasn’t been an issue. That’s the benefit about having a partner who stays up all night and sleeps all day. We take baby in shifts and both get plenty of sleep. Because of the clogged duct issue, I have to make sure I wake up at least once throughout the night to pump but most newborn mommies would still be envious of the 5-6 hours of sleep I get on a consistent basis. Sleep helps me keep my sanity so I appreciate it. However, it means that during the day, I’m basically a single parent, doing everything on my own. Not to mention, my boyfriend goes to work five nights a week, and bowls on one of his nights off. The seventh day is football. So my shifts with little man are looooong. And for reasons that I, shockingly, don’t feel like getting into right now, it feels like I’m raising him with a roommate, not a lover. In this department in particular, the struggle is pretty fucking real. 

So far, the only place where I’m not struggling is actually being a mom to this little piece of perfection. Because, as it turns out, the only thing you have to do is love them more than anything else in the world. And to put their needs first. All I did was take my bad habits and vices and put them in column A and then put a picture of my baby in column B and ask myself which is more important. No struggle there. 

Otherwise, all of this is just as hard as people tell you it’s going to be. It’s also just as rewarding. Part of me dreads returning to work and the other part is anxious to get back at it. I love this little dude with all my heart but I was not made to stay at home by myself all day waiting to be needed. It’s like having cabin fever but with a fear of going outside. 

The struggle is... well, you get the point. 

And this is my new life. It’s not exactly what I pictured it would be. But then again, I’ve never known what the hell I wanted so I shouldn’t be surprised that things turned out so crazy. I don’t believe in God so I don’t feel as if I’ve been “blessed” with a miracle when I look at my gorgeous baby. But I do believe everything happens for a reason and while it is difficult, Xander has already made me a better person. 

I still have a long way to go and lots of hard decisions to make. But every day, I wake up, look at Column B and know I can do the right thing. 

Besides, on any other day, I’d be knee deep in poop, tears and spilled milk by this time of day but he must’ve known I needed to blog because he’s been sleeping all morning. He gets me. It’s only fair I get him back.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Everyone's Out Partying at Life is Beautiful and I'm Just Over Here Having a Baby

Boy was I ready to GO! 

Books had been read, classes had been attended, advice had been taken, hospital bag was packed. Lists had been made, furniture had been assembled, Halloween decorations were up. 

Decisions had been made, birth plan had been established, hair was done. Dog went to groomer, work paperwork had been finalized, new car was purchased, rules were established. 

Nobody was ready for this baby the way I was. 

And then it happened. And I was reminded, once again, how little control I actually have over things. 


It was Thursday night, September 24th and I was home alone watching the football game. I was supposed to be napping and getting rest so I could get through my final two days of work without too much stress or fatigue. But, it’s football. So I snoozed for about half and hour and then just relaxed and watched the game. Besides, our doctor’s appointment had been earlier that afternoon and after being told that I was still only dilated to one centimeter with a baby sitting pretty high up, I was sure I had at least a week before Xander was going to make his appearance. 

It was around halftime that I started to feel the pressure in my lower back. A dull cramping, similar to how I’ve felt the night before starting a heavy period. I didn’t think much of it and just tried to relax in bed. 

By the time Johnny came home a little after ten, the pain had increased and started to come in small waves. Surely these couldn’t be contractions. After all, I was supposed to feel those in my cervix and lower abdomen area, right? But there was definitely something going on. 

Around midnight, I realized they weren’t going away. I had done some research online and was confident now that I was, indeed, having contractions. I still wasn’t convinced I was actually going into labor but thought it was a good idea to go to the hospital to see what was, in fact, going on. My belly really didn’t seem like it had dropped much and my water had not broken. They were, most likely, just going to check me out and send me home. 

Being a planner, of course, I still grabbed my hospital bag, laboring music, breastfeeding pillow and birthing ball. You know, just in case. 

We got to the hospital around 1:10am. By now, I was needing to stop walking or sit down to get through each contraction. We waited patiently while they got us a room and after I was all set up, the nurse sent Johnny down to register us. She checked my cervix and confirmed that I was still measuring at one centimeter. However, things had changed as now I was super soft in the parts I needed to be. So, they decided to give me an hour to see how I would measure and we’d go from there. 

At that point, the nurse (Rosario, basically the best nurse that exists on the planet), asked for and reviewed my birth plan, confirming with me that I wanted to have a natural, drug-free labor. 

I had made it pretty clear about my wishes to do so. Johnny and I had attended a birthing class, I had talked about it with plenty of my friends, I had practiced my breathing and stretching and had even been diligent with my Kegel exercises. Thousands of women did natural child birth, including my mother, and I wasn’t about to hit up a bunch of drugs out of fear or a little pain. In fact, just in case Johnny wasn’t able to stave off the nurses (whom I’d been told could be pretty pushy with drugs), I had asked my mother to be my advocate for the natural process, only allowing me to change my mind with a “safe” word. Because, you know, I got this. 

Rosario acknowledged my wishes and said she’d be back to check on me in an hour. 

At this time, I asked Johnny for my music to try and calm me between contractions, which seemed to be coming faster and more intense by the second. Still all in my lower back, I tried to avoid going into a complete fetal curl every time they hit and attempted to keep my animalistic and guttural grunts at a minimum. It wasn’t easy. 

Speaking of Mom as my advocate, please try them again, I asked Johnny, who was close to double digits on the amount of times he had tried to reach both my parents. It was really strange. I knew my dad slept with his phone next to him. But it was late and both of them were not expecting me to be in the hospital so soon, especially after the update post doctor appointment. I was sure they were both just conked out. 

I tried not to watch the clock, knowing that it wouldn’t make these contractions any less frequent or painful. With only about fifteen minutes left until Rosario was back to check on things, my water broke.  

I realized then that no matter what anyone could’ve told me or warned me about, I would never have believed that the pain could be that bad. I mean, I could say that it felt like ten serrated knives being driven into my lower back repeatedly and at a rapid rate, but that would be an understatement. My grunts turned into desperate howls, my sweat permeated the room and I knew right then that everything I thought I had planned for was right out the window. 

When Rosario came in to check me, I was at six centimeters. She officially called go time and we were off to the races. I asked if it was too late for the epidural and thankfully, we were able to get it going right away. However, as the anesthesiologist started working on me, my IV popped out of my left wrist, blood started spraying all over the bed, another colossal sized contraction hit me before the drugs could, the nurse started calling out for a tourniquet, a second nurse was desperately searching for another vein and all I could think was, “Really? This?” 

When that chaos finally settled down and I could no longer feel the lower half of my body, I was able to calm myself and better assess the situation. I still hadn’t gotten a hold of my parents but, of course, Johnny was right next to me and his mom had just shown up as well. I was just starting to get my head back on when Rosario came in with some concern about baby’s heart rate. 

It was dropping low whenever I was contracting, which wasn’t completely abnormal, but the problem was that, as Rosario called it, I was apparently a “contraction machine” and there wasn’t a lot of time in between them for him to get his heart rate back up. She expected my doctor any minute and we’d go from there. 

I was originally told that my doctor wasn’t available that weekend and that someone was on-call for him. Luckily, that wasn’t the case and he showed up, ready to go. The reason this is important is because after a few bouts of pushing, it was clear that little man was not cooperating, not moving down and his heart rate was not stabilizing. I was at nine centimeters when doctor got there, but Xander had turned sideways and getting into the birth canal was just not happening. 

So there it was, the c-section conversation. The only thing I wanted to avoid more than the drugs. My doctor knew how I felt and said that once I was prepped and in the operating room, he would attempt to use the vacuum to see if he could ease Xander out that way first. But I already knew he was just trying to make me feel better. 

Everyone was asked to leave the room while they prepped both me and Johnny for surgery. I remember feeling pretty numb, physically of course, but emotionally as well. Once again, this was NOT how I had been planning the end to my beautiful and perfect pregnancy. Not to mention the concern I had for my baby that was so healthy and happy the last 39 weeks and was now starting to go through trauma trying to come out. 

By the time we were all set to go in the OR, Xander had already reversed whatever small trip he had started to make towards the light. C-section it was. More drugs, arms strapped down, curtain up and it was showtime. 

I remember not thinking much. I just stared up into the lights, tears in my eyes but insisted on holding it together. All of a sudden, I noticed that in one of the metal lights above my head, I could see the reflection of my incision. I knew I should probably look away but I was mesmerized. It was like watching a TV show. Or maybe a car wreck. I saw a bunch of blood, what had to be my intestines and then, after some heavy rolling pressure, I watched as they pulled a seven pound baby from my stomach.  

I’m still not sure how I feel about seeing all of that. 

During labor, little Xander had swallowed a bunch of fluid that he shouldn’t have so after a quick look over the curtain so I could see him, they took him off to the side to suction out the additional fluid. It wasn’t until I heard him start to cry that I finally lost it myself. Fear, frustration, relief and love washed over me more intensely than I could handle. At that moment, nothing about my failed plans mattered. 

They sent Xander and Johnny out together so they could clean him up and do whatever tests needed to be done. The room became quiet very quick as the doctor stitched me up, something else I couldn’t help but watch in the reflection above. I started to feel sick so they gave me more medication for the nausea. This had to be more drugs than I’ve ever been on in my entire life. But, what are you gonna do... I certainly wasn’t going to throw up all over my new baby. 

The doctor finished up with me and as they rolled me out of the room on my way back to my boys, I heard my mom’s voice asking for me. As it turns out, they had both simply left their phones in another room and with their bedroom fans, they never heard the calls. I felt the most upset for my mom, who was devastated that she couldn’t be there for the actual birth, but I assured her that it wouldn’t have mattered as only Johnny was allowed in the OR anyway. My dad fought back tears as well but all I could think was how happy I was to see them and how lucky I was to have everyone there for me. 

The next few days were all about recovery and learning how to take care of Xander. I was thrilled that he caught on to breastfeeding so well (finally, something went according to plan!) and that every nurse that came into the room was better than the one before. I had to stay an extra day because of the surgery and although I know both my mom and Johnny were anxious for me to get home, I was enjoying taking the time out and having all of the support of doctors and hospital staff to get me through everything. 

Most of my war wounds can be seen. I have terrible bruising from the IV incident, elephant-sized calves and ankles from fluid buildup and, of course, the scar that will always belong to my baby boy. 

Emotionally, it’s hard to see what I’m going through. I never planned on being a parent. I never expected a little face to look up at me, rely on me, need me and know that I created that face. I have a natural, easy going approach to parenting but at the same time, I worry about not being good enough, not being smart enough and not being able to do everything I can to make sure he feels about life the way I never really have. I want so much to raise a happy, productive and intelligent human being. The responsibility is overwhelming. 

So, at least for now, I’m just trying to make sure he eats, he poops and he sleeps. Rinse and repeat. As I suspected, Johnny has been amazing and I see his natural fathering skills kicking in immediately. He isn’t quite as laid back as I am and I think that makes for a really good balance for our boy. We alternate sleep, we take care of each other and we miss the other when they aren’t around. With all the shit we’ve been through the last two and a half years, coming together as a team to make sure we surround Xander with love has been done willingly and naturally. And my love for him grows more and more every time I see him hold his son. 

The moral of the story? Shit happens. And it’s hard for someone like me, who loves to be in control of everything, to let go and just allow the chips to fall where they may. While I hope this might be helpful to other future first time mommies, I think it’s a pretty good lesson for all things in life. And certainly one that I’ll embrace more from now on. 

My life has started over. Everything that has happened over the last 35 years leaves my mind when I look down at my beautiful, perfect son. I am forever grateful that I never gave up on myself and found a way through dark times to this bright, sunny meadow I’m standing in now. 

After all, at the end of the day, it turns out that Life is Beautiful.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Good Cry is Healthy... An Ugly One? That's a Different Story

I can’t remember the last time I ugly-cried. Before tonight, that is. 

So here’s what happened... 

I ALWAYS take side streets home from work on the weekends. It’s just easier than dealing with the idiots who are in town who are either drinking and driving or just plain don’t know where they're going and cause a ruckus on our already crowded freeways. Tonight, however, I got off earlier than expected and at the last minute, decided to hop on the freeway before the crazies got out of the clubs and bars to join me. 

As I approached the part of the freeway that typically slows down a little with those merging from the north end of The Strip, I see brake lights. Nothing crazy, nothing I’m not used to. So I slow down.. and slow down.. and slow down.. and SHIT!! Complete stop out of nowhere! I slam on my brakes just in time to hear the SUV in front of me hit the Camaro in front of him. I hold on tight and brace myself just in time to stop short, maybe even just barely kissing the bumper of the car in front. Before I can be relieved, a big black SUV slams me from behind, pushing me hard into the car I thought I had just missed. 

Well, fuck. 

The four of us pull over and I get out of my car to see that my front left side bumper, hood and headlight are bashed in. The couple in the car in front of me get out of their car to also check damage. All of a sudden, I hear the first car, the Camaro, step on the gas and flee the scene. Before I realize what’s happening, I look behind me to see the black SUV has barely pulled over, and is now pulling back into traffic, taking off as well. I don’t even see a license plate because of the glare of lights from the slow freeway traffic. I put my hands up in the air like "what the fuck?" but forget nobody gives a shit about responsibility these days. And sure enough, when I check my rear bumper, the damage is so minimal that I know the SUV couldn’t have had much themselves, if any. Hence the takeoff. Because who wants to deal with insurance and grown up stuff, right?

The couple in front of me ask if I’m okay (thoughtful at least, considering my obvious pregnancy) and then check their car for damage. I have given them a few scuffs on their bumper. They say they have no damage on the front, wish me good luck and take off. 

I mean, you’re fucking kidding me right. This whole thing happened in a matter of three minutes. 

So there I am, at 10:30pm on a Saturday night, standing with my almost eight month pregnant ass on the side of the 15 freeway, left alone with easily thousands of dollars of damage to my car and not one person in the world with a fuck to give. And, of course, since the damage is in the front, and all witnesses have fled, guess who gets to take the blame all by their onesies. 

Oh Life, you and your “fuck yous” certainly stand alone. 

So, okay, let’s look at the bright side. I’m okay, baby is okay, car is drivable. In fact, I drove straight to my dad’s house so he could look at it and when he opened the hood to make sure it still opened and closed okay, the dent in my headlight popped out, making it look at least a little less shitty. The accident could’ve been worse and I don’t even want to think about what would’ve happened if I were injured. So yes, I’m grateful for that. 

But you know, it’s like Life knows that money is causing stress and heartache in my world right now and just wants to make sure I know that it can always get more stressful and more heartache-y. 

Shit is about to get real and honest right now and it is NOT going to go over well with some of my loved ones but at the moment, I’m feeling pretty on my own anyway so fuck it, what good is this blog if it doesn’t occasionally ruffle some feathers?

There are good and not so good things about being a server who is having a baby. Let’s start with the good. This baby is costing me about $300 to have because of my Union competitive health insurance I receive for working in a restaurant on The Strip. Not only that, but I only have to average 25 hours a week in order to get said benefits from my job. 25 hours. And that’s about all I work. I also make the same amount of money working those 25 hours a week that I did when I worked 40-60 hours a week at previous "big girl" jobs as a hotel sales manager and restaurant manager. And again, my benefits now are better. 

I work in a restaurant with, like, a hundred servers. Which means if I don’t feel like working, I can release my shift and it’ll most likely get picked up by someone else. If not, I can also call out, as we have Stand By servers every day, every shift. If I want to take time off, I request it in advance. And I get it. Every time. I don’t work football Sundays. I don’t work when the Broncos play on Mondays or Thursdays. I need more money this week? I pick up a shift. Nothing available? I go into work and “shark” a shift, which means I come ready to work and ask one of many willing servers if they want to go home early and then take over their section (I’ve literally only sharked once, but the point is, I always can). 

Basically, my job is the closest thing I have to being a Stay At Home Mom once Xander arrives. 

The bad part about my job as it relates to being pregnant is that I don’t get paid maternity leave. They do cover my insurance hours for up to 12 weeks which is cool, but no money comes in while I’m on leave. 

I started a savings box about a year or so ago. Johnny and I were talking about how nice it would be to go visit his family in Maui. Back in 2009, when my friend Cory and I decided to go to England, I thought I’d never be able to afford it. But I was super committed and diligently put away twenty bucks a shift for the six months before our trip. By the time we were flying out, I had managed to save over $2,000 without having trouble covering any of my other financial obligations. Awesome, right? So I figured we could do the same. 

We had about the same amount of time, maybe even a few more months, before we were thinking about vacation so I came up with $5 each per shift in the box. All we really needed to cover was the flight so I figured that would be cake. 

After a couple of months, I got tired of reminding Johnny to put money in the box and just sort of gave up. I mean, if he wasn’t serious about going, I certainly wasn’t going to fund it. So the savings box went ignored for a while. 

All of a sudden, SURPRISE! Positive pregnancy test. 

Knowing I wouldn’t get paid for time off but wanting to try and take as much of that 12 weeks as I could, I turned our Maui box into a Xander box. We both agreed we would just pump as much money as we could to cover my expenses for the time off so that I could get as much time as possible with our new little man. 

It went well for a little while. 

Long story short, as I was continuously pumping five, ten and twenty dollar bills into the box, Johnny was secretly taking them out, using them to cover his portion of the rent for the last two months that he couldn’t afford because of excessive purchasing of alcohol and cigarettes - both of which he agreed to quit (cigs) and massively cut down on (booze). 

Needless to say, life in my house - especially in regards to money - has been tense. 

As he scrambles to repay me so that I don’t ACTUALLY kill him in his sleep, I sadly realize that with only me contributing to the box, I can barely take off one month when little man arrives. 

Now, here is what Johnny doesn’t know. Until now, of course. Watching his spending, drinking and smoking habits over the last two years, and understanding his lack of responsibility with grown up financial obligations, I decided it wouldn’t be very smart to put my trust in his ability to save money. So for the last six months, I’ve been stashing money myself, thankfully in an actual savings account and not a wooden box in our bedroom. 

Do you know how easy it is to save money when you aren’t blowing it on vices like drinking, gambling and smoking? It really makes me wish that men could carry babies so that they would be forced to make the kinds of changes we do and not just wait until they have living, breathing proof in their arms at which time then, and only then, do they think maybe I should’ve saved that extra FIVE FUCKING DOLLARS from their shift last night. 

However, I digress... 

Besides the $600-$700 I managed to save in the savings box (in which I’m waiting for a substantial portion to be repaid), I also put away just under $1,100 in my savings account in just a matter of a few months, assuring a whole month of expenses were covered during my leave. $1,100!! Impressive, right? 

Ready for the punchline? My collision deductible in the case of a car accident is $1,000. 

It was a very, very ugly cry. 

Everything is going to be fine, because it always is. But I’ll never really understand why things have to go so awry before they straighten themselves out again. And why I always have to be on my toes, knowing that when push comes to shove, the only person that truly has my back is me. Personal responsibility is not only exhausting, it’s quite unrewarding at times. No wonder there are so many victims out there. 

And, as I realize I’m starting to sound like a victim myself (and that this is my longest blog in a while), I’ll wrap it up with this: I am safe, Xander is safe, a car is just a car, money is just money and at the end of the day, I still have it better than many. 

If it’s not too much to ask though, I sure would love some good news tomorrow.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

"Yes, I Can Absolutely Wait."

High glucose? Really? 

I’m sitting here in my doctor’s office, head all fuzzy from a cold I recently caught, waiting for the next round of 60 minutes to go by so I can get even MORE blood drawn to test my glucose levels. Being pregnant does weird things to the body. 

Of course, I really can’t complain. Baby Xander has continued to be VERY good to me. We’ve entered our third trimester together with no complications, still no sickness, minimal bouts of heartburn and still plenty of energy to get through work. I think my little head and chest cold stemmed from baby shower stress, which I’m happy to say has come and gone. 

It was fun, don’t get me wrong. But like most parties I throw, there is always some disappointment that comes along with all the good times. Like family members you wished cared enough to show up. Friends who you knew would be there and then weren’t. Gifts that were thoughtful but, unfortunately, useless. And of course the endless stream of “Oh I really wanted to go, but...” for the next week. 

It’s cool, it’s how parties go. We had a great turnout and really enjoyed seeing people we hadn’t seen in a while. Lots of fellow mommies to give us all kinds of useful advice. Like how strange we were for wanting to use cloth diapers or how little sleep we were going to get. Ooh or how all of our friends were going to bounce and we’d be left feeling lonely with no one to turn to. Although based on my past relationships with friends who had kids (when I was still a hard no on having them myself), I already expect this to happen. 

Do I sound bitter? Maybe that’s the fever talking... or the fact that I’ve been up all night in anticipation of this ridiculous appointment. High glucose levels? Really? 

And of course, while Johnny does so many things right, there are still so many things I expect from him that I don’t get. The direct result of falling for someone with the same lifestyle as you. Until that lifestyle suddenly changes and you have to find reasons to not kill them in their sleep out of the bitterness and resentment of watching them live a life you can’t help but miss a little. 

Okay, maybe not the EASIEST pregnancy in the world. 

I always chalk it up to a bad week. I do still have them, after all. But I am soothed at night, after the day has finally finished and I crawl into my delicious bed by myself. I prop up on pillows, surrounded by cozy sheets, turn on Four Weddings or Chopped and let my little Xander start his dancing. This has become my favorite part of the day. The time that is ours and ours alone. I had a friend tell me that is what she missed most of all, after giving birth to her children, that intimate time between mama and baby when they are still inside, safe and protected from the world. This feeling is unlike anything I’ve ever felt or will ever feel again. 

People say to me constantly, "I'll bet you can’t wait to have that baby!" My answer is always the same - “Yes, I can absolutely wait.” 

I don’t see myself going through another pregnancy so I make sure to cherish all the moments with this one. Once he’s born, he becomes his own person... with his own dreams and his own struggles. He has to learn about things like poverty, hate crimes, politics, Donald Trump, Floyd Mayweather and Cecil the Lion. I can no longer shield him from those things. At this exact moment, he is in the safest place in the world. Yes, I can absolutely wait. 

In the meantime, I’ll cut down on my sugar so as to make it more cozy in there for my little man. 

I mean, really... high glucose? Come on...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change." - Jim Rohn

Well, it’s officially happening. 

I had lunch with a friend yesterday that I hadn’t seen in ages. We talked about babies and “momming” for almost two hours. 

Friends I used to hang out and drink with all the time are now greeted by a brief nod as we pass each other at work. 

I scroll my Facebook feed and instead of the newest craft beer being released or the next gathering to hit up, I’m checking out deals on cloth diapers and making sure my wash routine is up to par. 

After an insanely busy week at work, I spent my time off waking up early to garage sale for baby stuff, clean the house and put together things in the nursery. 

I spent more time at Joann’s craft and fabric store last week than I did at the gym. 

I’ve always hated shopping. Now, I can’t wait to get new maternity clothes. I love the way my body looks with this big round belly. 

I don’t miss beer. I don’t miss smoking. I have no desire to gamble. I have more money in the bank than I’ve had in years. 

My mom has officially become my best friend. 

Someone made a comment about how she never thought it would happen but that all of my Facebook posts are about baby stuff now. I almost had to tear her face off. 

And this? This is becoming a fucking Mom-Blog. 

Because after all those years of knowing I was right, of thinking all of you were crazy, of being convinced that I would never, ever be like you, hear I am, admitting that I was wrong. 

This being pregnant business is cool as shit. 

Now, I’m pretty lucky. I still feel awesome and haven’t experienced any kind of sickness. If hormones are affecting my emotions, I’m not really noticing as I’m pretty much happy all the time. All of my doctor’s appointments have gone great and my weight gain is completely normal. I sleep well, I wake well, I eat well and I bathroom well (TMI, I get it). 

I’m getting my ass handed to me at work on a daily basis but am taking the stress of it in stride as there is so much to be excited for. And of course, all the extra money is helping in my preparation for little Xander’s arrival. 

One of my friends told me that I really look like I’m enjoying my pregnancy and she is right. I understand I have the toughest months ahead of me and then a lifetime of challenges to follow. But right now, I truly am enjoying being pregnant. I’m not in a hurry for anything. It’s a really cool feeling. 

The idea that my world has changed and that the landscape of my relationships will continue to change sometimes gives me cause for concern. After all, every friend I’ve ever had has always meant a lot to me. But, over a year ago, when I asked the universe to give me something to look forward to in life, a goal that would draw me out of my ambivalent and often drunken stupor, a reason to be a good person again, I knew that changes would be inevitable. And besides, they say your true friends will always be there for you. I suppose time will tell. 

In the meantime, I don’t feel a void. My heart feels as big as my belly and the future looks bright. 

In all my years, I never thought I’d be saying this but... 

Yup. You told me so.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Motherhood... Please Tell Me There Is An App For That

I’m not sure I can pinpoint that specific time in my life when I lost all motivation to “become someone”. I always pushed myself to do well in school, I killed it in college, I started a pretty lucrative career right after graduation and continued to get better and better at life for a good five or six years afterwards. Even after I decided to leave my job in the hotel industry and try something new in Las Vegas ten years ago, I was still motivated to get up early and chase that gazelle. 

And then one day, I just didn’t have it anymore. The fight that was in me for as long as I could remember was suddenly just... gone. 

I couldn’t really blame it on anything in particular. It would’ve been easy to blame it on the pot. Or the drinking. Or even the gambling. But I smoked weed during the most productive times in my life. I’ve been drinking since I was eighteen. And the most trouble I’ve ever gotten into with gambling is missing a car payment a few years ago. No. it was something bigger than that. Something mental, I supposed. 

When my parents moved to Ely, my mom and I would hold weekly telephone chats to stay connected. I remember one week, about a year or so ago, having a conversation with my mom about this newfound “condition” I had. My weed smoking had mellowed but my drinking was at an all time high. I wasn’t really writing anymore, I was working as little as possible and literally had zero goals set for myself beyond getting up before noon at least two or three times a week. I was in a new relationship and was pretty happy about how it was going... but a lot of the contentment came from the fact that he appeared to be in the same place in life as me. Although he seemed to be a lot more at peace with it than I was. 

I recall telling my mom, without remorse or frustration, that as much as I knew I could and should be doing something more productive with my time every day, I truly just didn’t have a valid reason to make a change. Money? Unfortunately, I've never been pushed to succeed because of any dreams to be rich. Health? I mean kinda... hard to get motivated when you feel perfectly fine. Spiritual wellness? Eh... overall, feelings of spirituality or religion itself, outside of general frustration, play no real role in my life. My only struggle seemed to come from all those years of driving in higher gears and feeling like I was at least doing something productive. In my mind, being in neutral wasn’t an okay way to go about life. 

Having a child came up in one of these weekly conversations with Mom. As someone who had never wanted kids, I sort of just mentioned in a nonchalant way how maybe if I were to get pregnant, at least then I would be forced to DO something. 

But I mean.. I wasn’t serious. 

Facebook reminded me recently that a friend had tagged me in this meme two years ago... I laughed and laughed... 

And then, just like that, the Universe responded. 

Today is my 20 week pregnancy check up. We will have our second ultrasound and find out how our baby is developing and also, whether we will be raising a boy or a girl

I haven’t been sober for such a long period of time in many, many years. It doesn’t really feel weird, necessarily, only strange because of how habitual drinking and smoking had become for me. What feels weird is putting something (or someone, rather), before myself. That has taken some getting used to. And ultimately, I think that is the thing I have been searching for this whole time. Something bigger than myself to give life some meaning. 

Things are continuing to move fast with this pregnancy - faster than I want, really. I still feel incredibly overwhelmed and not particularly ready to be a mom. But, maybe it’ll be like riding a bike and I can reach back to those times in my life when I was a badass and did set goals and accomplish things. And maybe, just maybe... I’ll feel even better since this goal is definitely bigger and more important than any others I’ve ever had. 

Life is funny that way. Even when you don’t realize you are actually asking for something, it turns out that... well... you kinda are. Or at least, I was. 

I suppose needed a new goal anyway. After all, there are only so many Untappd badges out there. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

To Kid Or Not To Kid

First of all, it’s “you’re”. 

I totally remember feeling this way. How can I not? I felt that way pretty much my entire life. There is a very big part of me that still feels that way now. 

So why did this comment upset me so much as I was taking my leisurely scroll through Facebook this morning? 

Oh, right... the life growing inside my belly. Duh. 

Here is my struggle... although pregnant for the first time ever, many of my philosophies about procreation remain the same. I think too many people have too many children without considering the consequences. I think too many children are in foster care and orphanages and wish that more people would consider adoption (See 19 Kids and Counting). I think parenting, or more so, the lack thereof, is one of the main reasons our society is in a moral downfall. I, too, believe the world is incredibly overpopulated. 

But to wish that all woman would vow to never have children? That’s gotta be considered kind of ignorant, right? Is it just me? 

In my most ignorant of youth, I remember asking a woman I worked with why she was such an advocate for having children and raising a family when there were so many horrible things in this world. I mean, who would want to raise a kid in this mess? Her response to me was that she agreed that the world was rough. She and her husband wanted to be a part of making a change. So they decided to have two kids and raise them with all the love, nurturing and education they could possibly provide in an effort to bring two well adjusted, confident and open-minded human beings into this world. I mulled over her response for a while before replying, “Okay, but what happens when your two perfect children end up working in the upper floors of the World Trade Center on September 11th?” 

It’s easy to be negative about having children. Especially when you don’t have them. 

Another friend of mine on Facebook the other day posted something about how cruel it was to use “I’m pregnant” as an April Fool’s joke. How it was insensitive to those woman who couldn’t conceive. I used to wish I was one of those women. That way, I would never have to worry about one day, having to make the decision about whether or not I would go against everything I ever believed in and bring a child into this world. 

But, that’s not the case and it turns out I’m fertile. And just like everyone in my life ever said to me on the subject, the day that test came up positive, my world changed. Like Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill. No more assassination domination plans for this girl. 

All I think about these days is what I’m going to do to be the best mom I can be. I think about education, culture, social and family interaction, life experiences and all the things I can do to ensure that when I do send my child out into the world as a young adult, they will be as prepared as possible for what lies ahead. I think about Johnny’s role as a father and how important our relationship will be for our child. I think about how much we are going to fuck up, no matter what our intentions are. And I think about how maybe in the end, what we do as parents... just won’t matter. 

I don’t know what is right or wrong anymore, in the big scheme of things. I have absolutely no problem with women who choose not to have children. I no longer have issues with those that want them. I am still an advocate for adoption but because it’s such a ridiculously complicated process, it’s hard to condemn those who choose to have their own. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think everyone should do what they think is right for them. What a concept, right? 

As far as the Facebook comment, I understand. Like I said, I had similar strong feelings for an exceptional amount of time. And the world makes it very, very easy to get disillusioned and frustrated. And maybe, as a society, it’s not a bad idea to slow down on the breeding. I mean, the planet is only so big and the resources only so plentiful. So yeah, I get it. 

But I still unfriended her.

My super cool niece, Avery