Thursday, April 29, 2010

Then He Oh So Adroitly Unsnapped My Bra….

Nicole better not quit her day job because clearly there is not future for me in porn writing. I have a feeling “adroitly” isn’t used very often in Penthouse. Is Penthouse even still around? See, I don’t even know the market anymore. My ONE piece of porn advice is this: Never buy porn at your local newsstand, the one you go to on a regular basis. Newsstand workers have a loooooong memory and smirky smiles. What might have seemed like a good idea at the time will come back to haunt you every time to pick up a newspaper or the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Anyway, there I was, facedown on a warm bed, when my bra was unsnapped with one hand by my acupuncturist. One hand. That is talent. Not sure why I was even wearing a bra, except me told me to keep my undergarments on, and I listened. What is this, the 1800s? I get a little tired of the modestly game, how I have to wear the gown open in a certain way and then be draped with towels, all to protect the acupuncturist from seeing too much of my skin at one time. Part of me appreciates the modest touches, but a bigger part of me finds it difficult to flip from my back to my stomach and remove my shoulders from my gown, which is open to the front, in any sort of graceful way. It wasn’t pretty. Next session I will need to bring a lighting specialist if I have to continue to go out of my way to hide myself. But really, can’t we just get naked and call it a day? It is far more comfortable than having a gown scrunched down to my waist and a thick towel placed over my butt. Besides, if I were naked then he most likely wouldn’t be using my butt as a place to stack his needles. Never have been a fan of my butt being used as a side table. But I was too Zen-ed out to complain, and slightly afraid that someone with so much knowledge about body parts and channels and all that could easily switch from acupuncturist to voodoo artist if provoked.

This is my first session and I will keep gong back weekly until something changes in me physically, mentally or emotionally, dammit. It is not a chore. I loved my acupuncture guy. He was so New Age hippy, with long hair and bare feet and a really sympathetic smile and that familiar collegiate patchouli smell. He complimented me on my low resting heart rate, which, as I told Nicole, I am abnormally proud of. His assistant, a really tall, imitating German guy, asked if I was an athlete. Except it sounded like “Ahh yew ahn Ahth-leeet?” This seems a very grandiose label for someone who runs and does the occasional plank. But I guess by his definition I am indeed an athlete. I’m gonna own it, and buy myself a track suit.

Topic switch: Today Avery announced that she wanted to go pee pee on potty. Ok, this is a good step. She proceeded to sit on the potty, drinking water, eating ice chips and chatting for almost 45 minutes. In this time I finished my venti iced coffee with an extra shot and was ready to explode. I didn’t want to break Avery’s concentration so I took one for the team and waited. And Madeline was pulling me into the kitchen because she wanted to eat crushed ice. But Avery insisted I stay by her side. It was tough. I have a feeling this process is going to suck in a huge way. I promised Avery big prizes if she delivered, including an entire afternoon of free access to my iPad. She agreed to all this, but the suddenly announced she wanted off the potty and wanted her diaper back. You all know what happened next. Yep. 45 minutes and she uses the damn diaper. Is this some sort of joke? Do children try to push out buttons? Are we getting closer with her?

Thank God tomorrow is Friday and we are heading up to Mass for the weekend. I am so ready to get out of here.

Pictured above, my mother-in-law might kills me if she knew I posted this, but she doesn’t read my blog, so there. But I love that pic of her with Nicole and Nicole’s sister. I also love the picture of her teaching Avery golf. These girls have a family of golfers around them. They better like playing!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pure Joy: My Favorite Picture Ever

This is a blurry shot of Avery dancing. But no picture have I ever taken has come this close to capturing who she is. This is Avery, pure and simple. Joy, personified. Joy-in-motion. Pure joy. And clearly it is my life's ambition to be like her.

I have lots of updates but can barely keep my Ambien-ed eyes open to type. Though it COULD be an interesting post if I tried. More tomorrow....

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Eight

One of the best comments I received lately is from a friend who said, and I quote: “Sucks that your body is out to get you." That pretty much sums up how I am feeling right now. Because the thing is, Hashimotos is not a deadly disease. In fact, it is common, and manageable, and for so many people, inevitable. I have not been diagnosed with a terminal illness. And those ectopic heart beats are not uncommon, either. Most likely, they mean nothing at all. And yet, I am still frustrated and upset, and a teensy bit worried. Maybe because all of these little issues usher in a new chapter in life: the dreaded middle age. This is an era in which health issues can no longer be ignored or chalked up to a hangover or anomalies. This week has been a flurry of doctor’s appointments, and there are more on the horizon. And I am about to make it all a little more complex by setting up some acupuncture appointments. I had such a good experience with that in the past, so let’s see what it can do this time.

In between it all, I am dealing with case workers and assessors and evaluators, who are coming to determine is Madeline is qualified for any early intervention for her speech. We met with the caseworker on Tuesday, who said that it seems unlikely she will qualify. I was still skeptical, but then I took the girls to the grocery store yesterday and Madeline went up to every person she saw and said “Hey. What’s going on? This is Momma!” So just when I think she isn’t speaking enough or her vocabulary isn’t broad enough, she proves me wrong and turns into a little social chatterbox.

But, the case worker said, she does have some speech issues (lispy-like S’s. etc.) that may resolve on their own, and most likely won’t qualify for services. Her initial advice: Throw out the paci and sippy cups. Easier said than done. In the meantime, I think it is cute that her “hello” sounds like “hey whoa.” Won’t be so cute, though, when she is 12.

All of this extra pressure has got me thinking a lot lately about my old standby stress relief: Drinking. I can admit I have had a few nights lately when I thought, eff it, I am going to a bar right now. I haven’t done that, because I have the girls and sobriety and Nicole to think of. But one of the main reasons why I haven’t it because if I did, it would so have to be worth it to get me the throw eight years out the window. Like if you are on a strict diet, you aren’t going to blow it for a Twinkie. And I am not sure I can create a good enough scenario to ruin this almost decade-long streak.

A few weeks ago, I found myself standing outside of an old haunt of mine, a place of many happy drinking memories. But in the sober light, it didn’t look that great, didn’t have quite the same glow. And there were a few men there, beers in hand, watching me stare in the bar, calling me inside, laughing. Yeah, no thanks. If I drink, I want a bottle of really good scotch and some really good company. Or a cold, tall wheat beer with a sliver of lemon on a perfect spring night, in the courtyard of this bar in Chelsea I used to go to. I can still remember this one night, crammed around a table of laughter and smiles and drinks, with those little pink flowers from the trees fluttering all around us. It just wouldn’t be the same and I just can’t recreate all that. Which, thank goodness, is one of the reasons why I don’t try. But I miss it and I miss how it could release my stress and remove my worries, if only in a temporary way.

So today I will distract myself. I will take the girl to the playground this morning. I will connect with the evaluator, who is coming today to met Maddie. I am hoping the girls fall asleep on the way back from the playground, because if they do, and I have the time before the evaluator comes, I may slip into the MOMA for a half hour to see an exhibit will only be there for another month. It is going to be beautiful today, and I am going to try to experience it.

Pictured above, speaking of interventions, Madeline needs a hair intervention.And a bacon intervention, but that is another post. Can anyone offer help/help for dealing with her kind of hair? And the ladybug/bumblebee cupcakes Avery and I made this weekend. I realized afterward that I could have used almond slivers to make little wings.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Returning to the Scene of the Fertility Crime

I was diagnosed with this Hashimotos disease/disorder. The bad news: Two of my levels are sky-high. Dr. Google offers some scary insight, including cancer makers and early indicators of some more scary auto-immune disorders/diseases. Yes, I find the worst-case-scenario and work backwards. My doctor (the real one, that is) says it is more of a wait-and-see game. So far, my thyroid function is within normal range, and this means even though my levels are scary high, my thyroid is still doing what it should be. Sort of. However, it is a mater of time before it implodes, or a new auto-immune disease manifests itself. This sort of diagnosis is awful for me. I prefer to know what is wrong, no matter how bad, and what I need to do to fix it. Not knowing, and waiting, is not my most favorite state of being. I see an endocrinologist on Wednesday, which, I hope, will shed more light and offer more guidance. And a magic pill. Please let there be a magic pill.

And my cardiologist: Well, that wasn’t much fun, either. I did not really like the doctor: His bedside manner was awful; he was quick and gruff, and he didn’t bother to knock when he came in, which made for an interesting view upon his entrance. And not in a good way. He had this attitude like “You are here for some ectopic beats? That’s it?” Yeah, that, and the electric jolts I get in my heart area on a daily basis. Even if this is a “hysterical hypochondriac” appointment, shouldn’t he be happy for the money my insurance company will pay? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time but my EKG was off, and listening with the stethoscope on several different visit did indeed indicate extra beats. Isn’t it worth it to follow up on these things?

He gave me a heart monitor to wear for 24 hours, and it is very annoying, not to mention endlessly fascinating to the girls. I just ripped it off, and am teetering on the verge of “I don’t care.” I will drop it off in a little bit, but haven’t committed to a follow-up appointment. It is frustrating to try to figure out health issues, and it is infinitely frustrating that science is not an exact science. Sometimes I feel like I am up for this challenge, and then other times, which is most of the time, I figure, whatever. Let me just ignore, ignore, ignore and maybe it will go away. Or maybe it won’t.

That’s just my frustration speaking. I guess I am not in the best place right now. Oh well.

And the title: A reference to the fact that my cardiologist's office is in the same building ads my first (awful) fertility specialist. Going back to the building was a little traumatizing. Sight of two failed IVF cycles and two miscarriages. On a bright note, I came home and had one of those gratitude jolts for my girls.

Pictured above, WTF? I saw this picture in a magazine I was flipping through at the doctor’s office. I guess it was supposed to make me want to book a vacation in the tropical paradise. But it had the opposite effect.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Not-Very-Good Development on an Otherwise Fine Day

Every time I go to my mother’s house, she hands me a collection of junk mail that I never need. Airline-affiliated credit card offers, catalogs and crap that you can just tell by the envelope is mass-mailed and worthless. Regardless, I flip through stack, barely looking, and toss the lot in the recycle pile. But this trip, this morning, was a little different. Right on top of the latest pile, conspicuously inconspicuous was something titled “Psychological Evaluation.” It was mine, administered to me when I was in fifth grade. On January 20th, 21st, 24th and 25th, of 1983, to be exact. There was no mention as to why it was there on top of my junk mail stack, or where it even came from, or where this copy has been living for the past almost-thirty years. But there it was, the secret life of dysfunction.

I swear it made my heart skip a beat, this folded up, slightly worn, typed-with-tabs evaluation of my eleven-year-old self. I guess most people would sit down and unfold those old papers and read them and ask their mother questions. It made me nervous and clammy. I felt that lurch in my stomach. Part of me wanted to just leave the house and leave the papers behind. I wanted to run reaaaaaallly fast. Not all people react so histrionically, but what can I say, I have a visceral reaction to evidence of those years. Third, fourth and fifth grade were not good years for my family. Neither were sixth, seventh and eight. The rest weren’t so great either. But fifth grade was a doozy.

So now, naturally, I can’t sleep and am debating if I should use a precious ambien to numb me into a prone position. I am trying to remember being evaluated. And I just can’t. I am trying to remember why I was absent for eleven days (?!) before the evaluation (it stated that under “behavioral observations”). I cannot remember a single thing. I can’t remember my third, fourth or fifth grade teachers’ names. Or what the lunchroom looked like. Or what the playground looked like. All I remember is this: making clay projects in art class, lost in a world of breakfast food, as I was obsessed with making the perfect stack of clay pancakes with a yellow pat of butter on top and little sausages and eggs, sunny side up. I think I remember thinking these would be a huge hit with my parents. I think I was planning on giving it to them as a gift. I think I thought they might keep it together, knowing that I put so much time and effort an thought into it. I have no idea what became of this art project. I can only guess it suffered the same fate as most of my childhood mementoes.

This was the year I also created my “signature” drawing: A picture of a woman holding a baby. Her rudimentary arms came down like two C’s on either side of her body. Inside the arms was a little oval of a baby. The mother’s eyes were little V’s, to indicate that she was looking at the baby, whose eyes were closed. She was smiling. The baby was smiling. To this day, when I doodle, I will doodle that picture, changing only the amount of cleavage I dole out to the mother, as indicated by the length of the line curving out of her neckline.

A courtyard, red culottes, a white shawl. Slate steps, a pond, a darkroom. A station wagon, a gravestone, honeysuckle. The clicking sound of the turn signal in a car late at night. The sound of tires crunching on gravel. Happy leaf. A giant forsythia bush that I turned into a fort. There’s all that.

So now I have a little more information about myself, to help fill in the blank spaces. I know what my IQ is, according to this report. I know statistically, mathematically, how I compared to my peers locally and nationwide. I know that my mother requested this evaluation of me. A little more information; a little more mystery.

Everyone is sleeping but me. It’s almost 11:30. The battery on my laptop is fading fast, but I am still wired. Tomorrow I am making ladybug and bumblebee cupcakes with Avery. For breakfast, Nicole is making French toast and her famous maple sugar bacon, for Madeline, who discovered bacon at the Sugar Shack in Massachusetts and has been talking about it nonstop. Which is to say she has been repeating the word “bacon” over and over again, and becoming almost inconsolable when I tell her that we don’t have any. There is ironing to do, a trip to the fruit market. Emails to respond to. Light bulbs to change. (Five, and counting….why do they always blow out around the same time?) Playground? Or zoo? Maybe a manicure? Life goes on. Despite my emotional upheaval, this was a good Saturday. And I am sure it will be a good Sunday. But this all depends on my ability to, once again, lock away/throw away the key.

I think I am finally getting sleepy.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

This Just In: Proof That My Children Are Trying to Kill Me

So I am on the street, walking to the doctor on this unusually hot spring day (90 degree in April? This summer may sizzle). And through the thicket of noise I hear the distinct sounds of Barry Manilow singing, in his oh so theatrical way. I look around, half expecting to see him, it was that loud. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me where it was coming from. You know where this is going….it was ME. Barry was coming from me. It was my iPhone, which magically turned itself on and started blasting Barry. And yes, I can admit that I have a few Barry Manilow songs in my music library. Weekend in New England? Could It be the Magic? Trying to Get the Feeling Again? Even Now? All amazing songs, at least lyrically. But which song did my devil phone choose to broadcast? Bandstand Boogie, a song that came with his greatest hits album that I just need to delete.

The doctor visit was not fun. I picked up a new disease/disorder today. Oh yes I did. I now have some thyroid disorder, yet to be determined, pending more blood work, which is due early next week. Basically it boils down to my TSH levels: They are supposed to between 1 and 4, but definitely under 20. My levels are 1500 on one side and just over 1000 on the other. Yep, about a million times higher than they should be. Overachiever. My doctor tried to reassure me that she has seen higher levels than mine, but admitted that most people with thyroid issues level out in the low 100s. She thinks I have Hashimotos disease; I think I am at death’s door. She listed a few of the symptoms and I can admit that some ring true for me: I do feel fatigue at times; I am very sensitive to cold; and I do have pale skin. But now for my justifications: I have twin toddlers: Of COURSE I am tired all the time. I get cold easily, but I also overheat easily: When it comes to temperatures I am always about the extremes. Just ask Nicole. And pale skin is a result of spending the winter cooped up. But it is hard to argue with those crazy TSH levels. 1500 on one side? Really? Does it have to be THAT high?

My doctor pointed out that all of this heart stuff and thyroid stuff has been ramping up since the girls were born. Meaning, my health took a turn for the worse after I had kids. Coincidence? Or are the girls trying to kill me?! I get a little bitter because I feel like I try to take care of my body: I don't drink (anymore) or smoke (anymore) and I exercise daily and eat well and walk miles and miles a day. I am personally affronted that my body breaks down!

Meanwhile, one of the reasons what I went to my doctor was to pick up some records to bring to my cardiologist on Monday, who is going to attempt to figure out why my heart does crazy extra beats and gives me electrical-like shocks almost daily. I have been dealing with those electric shocks for a very long time. I thought everyone had them. Turns out, no. Most people don't have them quite as often as I. Getting old sucks, but it beats the alternative, as they say. So while I am really kinda freaking out because we all know I live juuuust to the side of the state of paranoia, I am trying to take the attitude of let’s wait and see what this all means. Surely extra heart beats and crazy high TSH levels don’t equal instant death, right? Not easy for me, this whole let’s-be-patient-and-assume-you’re-not-dying attitude.

Let’s lighten the mood with an accidental double entendre. I was in my elevator and I was holding something with my right hand and trying to unhook my keys with my left hand from their hook on my bag handle. I tried or about 10 seconds and was getting frustrated. The man in the elevator made some silly comment, completely benign, and I blurt out “I am usually really good at doing things with one hand.” He laughed and then I laughed and then I thought about what I said and I am pretty sure I blushed because he smiled and laughed again. Nice. I am not sure if he has a dirty mind or if I have a dirty mind or if it was both of us.

Adding to my day of disappointments: I entered in the NYC marathon lottery and my name was not selected. I am bitter! I really wanted to do it, so much so that I already envisioned exactly what it would be like. I saw myself wearing that metallic blanket after I crossed the finish line. I saw that medal around my neck, which I would leave on for three weeks (“Why yes I ran the marathon!!” Just kidding…I wouldn’t do that). We would go out for a big lunch afterwards and celebrate my heroic footwork. I would sleep for three solid days afterward. Yeah, well, not gonna happen this year. My friend Molly was rejected along with me, and she has a back-up plan: She will run in the Rochester marathon. I am thinking maybe I will do that too. I just have to think about logistics, because Rochester is very far from here. And Nicole and the girls most likely wouldn’t go, because that could be a tough trip for three-year-olds. And I really wanted them to be there. But I really wanted to run the marathon with Molly, and go through the whole training process with her. I need to sort this out.

And now switching topics completely, in what may be a life-chainging move, we are thinking about cutting our cable. Completely. Meaning no more television at all. Not even basic channels. I am not insane: We will still have a DVD player and will let the girls watch DVDs. But no more TV. Nicole never watches anything and I only watch shows on my computer (The Office; Dexter and Survivor). And between the city and Massachusetts, we are paying a little more than $200 a month, just so the girl can watch DVR’d episodes of Wonder Pets. Crazy. That is about $2,500 a year. And if I saw $2,500 on the ground, I would pick it up.

I am a little nervous to cut us off completely, but I am thinking spring and summer might be the perfect time to do it, since we will be outside so much more. And I must admit the control freak in me loves that I can shield my girls from shows I don’t want them to see and I can control what they DO see.

Pictured above: This is what happens when I am singing in to the marathon web site to see if I won the marathon lottery: Avery has a sensory experience with almond butter while Maddie cheers her on. Of course, my first reaction was “Nooooooo Avery” and then a second later I thought, why not? I bet if feels fun to get all sticky. I took a deep breath, let go and got my camera. I didn’t get mad, I just told her that the fun with almond butter was over and now we had to have some fun with the sink. And she was ok with all that. And the way Maddie cheered Avery on (“Go Ave-y! Go Ave-y” while she bounced up and down on her toes) made me sad that I wouldn’t hear that from the sidelines during the NYC marathon. She is such a good little cheerleader, and I respond well to good cheers.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Flashes vs. The Whole of the Moon

Yesterday was one of those manic motherhood days. A few of my close friends came over around noonish, which is huge deal, because it is hard enough to make plans to get together with one of them, let alone four at once. All six of us is an even rarer occasion that requires all sorts of planets aligning and stars exploding and schedules rearranging. We settled the kids on the couch, ordered Thai food and picked up right where we left off, which we have been doing for almost thirty years now.

But Madeline, who doesn’t quite grasp the need for adults to bond and my need to use my adult words, would have none of it. Oh no. I HAD to be with her, not with my friends. She cried and screamed and pulled me to the living room. She even went so far as to dictate exactly where I sat. So I sat out there, while my friends laughed and complained and shared stories over Pad Thai and spicy basil friend rice in the kitchen.

I tried to be okay about it, but I was annoyed. I could have let her cry it out, but I know that won’t work, and I don’t have the heart for it. And in the meantime, she would make it impossible for the us to talk and would eventually disrupt the other kids enough to create pure chaos. And the others were doing so well. So I sat in my Maddie-assigned seat and stewed. One of my friends came out and proved how she was a much better mom than I am. She was saying thing like “She just needs her Momma” and “she’s the type that needs a little extra attention when so many others are around.” She found the beauty and love and innocence in the moment; I selfishly saw my adult interaction time disappearing.

What can I say. I just needed a little me time. I wasn’t asking for much, but the chance to sit with my friends for ten minutes would have been divine. Ten minutes. All of us, at a table, talking and sharing, just for ten minutes. Giving the circumstances, ten minutes, twenty tops, was the most we could hope for anyway of uninterrupted time. But I didn’t even get that.

Later we went for a walk in the beautiful day. Pinkberry and coffee and a little stroll into Central Park. Then everyone save Jenni went back to their subways and cars and went back to their own busy lives. Jenni came back up for a while and we sat at the table, alone, for those glorious twenty minutes, talking and laughing. So in the end, I got the uninterrupted time, one-on-one, so for that I am grateful.

Nicole had a work dinner so I was on my own for girls’ bedtime. Of course it was a minor nightmare. The free-range girls were running around their room, laughing and playing and telling each other stories. Around 8:00, I had enough (at that point, after all, I had been up and active for 16 hours) and went back in again to settle them down. They both were so excited to tell me the story of Alice in Wonderland. Well, the Abby and Sesame Street version of it, that is. When Madeline speaks, you can see her mind working in her eyes, as she searches for the right words. It is adorable. “Abby feel down and lost her wand. The bunny took it. We need to get it back!” They both traded lines back and forth. It was one of those moments when you can feel childhood and its magical blend of innocence and joy. So I lay on the floor and they each snuggled up to me, one on each side and let them tell me their story. Then we covered ourselves with a big blanket and I sang them to sleep (which in itself is a huge feat because let’s just say I am no Barbra Streisand). It only took about two minutes for them to fall asleep. And then I did too, right in the middle of their bedroom floor. Where else did I have to be? It was really sweet.

Pictured above, Easter.