Thursday, December 22, 2011

Please Help Holden

****UPDATE****12/24/11: Christmas Miracles? Holden's feeding clinic costs are now fully funded. There was a huge out pouring of support and I am so happy for this family...Really hoping it makes all the difference in the world and this little boy will start thriving...

I have been in the event industry for nearly 20 years now. It is a very tight-knit community, and, much like the ALI community I have come to love so much, we like to support each other in any way we can.

A very talented photographer, Scott, and his wife have a son, Holden who spent 2 months in the NICU. He is home now, and is having serious feeding issues. He is getting most of his nutrition through his G-tube, but at nearly 8 months is still experiencing failure to thrive. They have been accepted into a special feeding clinic, which, they feel is Holden's best shot. However, insurance refuses to pay. (Unfathomable).

They are trying to raise 20K to get him into this clinic. So, I am reaching out to you, all of you, on their behalf.

Please visit the link here to learn more about their need. WARNING: the video is beautiful, but heartbreaking. But it tells you all you need to know.

Please help if you can, even if it is just to lend moral support.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Own Creme de la Creme (2007)

Everyone knows about the Creme de la Creme list, right? (If not see side-bar). Well, like I mentioned in my last post, it has taken me um, 5 years to get around to submitting anything to the list. Finally, this year, I put my fear of humiliation aside and sent in my submission. I don't know why I was so scared. So, over the next few posts, I am going to share with you the posts, one from each year I've been blogging, that I should have submitted, but didn't. It will be a nice look back on the journey I've traveled since starting this blog, before I move on permanently to my Parenting blog.

This post, from 2007, may not be my best ever, but it was the one, that, while reading through my posts from that year, made me cry all over again. I suppose it is a testament to the fact the feelings surrounding our infertility will always be with me: It is so easy for me to be transported back to that space and remember, on a very visceral level, exactly how it felt to be where I was at that moment. It was also very eerie to read this post, about my jealousy of others' pregnancies, about my deep longing to conceive, and about my desire to move past my jealousy and pain and get on with the rest of my life, as a mother with our son whom we had adopted. Eerie, because this post was labeled "The Elusive Miracle-Surprise" which I moaned would never happen. Re-reading this now, I am hit square in the face with a great amount of awe and appreciation to the God/Angels/Universe that must have been listening all along to my deepest despair--for two years later, I received my very own Miracle-Surprise. It is also very humbling, because, reading it now, I wish I had had more faith that everything was how it was supposed to be, because, clearly the Plan was for me not to conceive at that point in time so that we would adopt. So that Handsome Man would be our son. How I wish I could go back in time to that woman I was then and tell her to have some peace and enjoy her life and be more grateful for what she had. It is hard though, when you are in the middle of it, the heart-deep longing, to let go, as much as I really, really, wanted to. And I have a great deal of compassion, too, for the woman I was then.

So, without further ado, I give you, "The Elusive Miracle-Surprise" originally written in 2007:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Elusive Miracle-Surprise

Another friend of mine is pregnant.

I found out as Mister and I were excitedly driving out of town on the way to our first day of vacation. My cell phone rang, and, I was delighted to see my old friend's number. So I answered. And she told me the news. After I hung up, Mister said he was very proud of me, because I did such a good job sounding excited and happy for my friend. To which I replied, "Well, I'm a very good actor." But, the truth was, I am happy and excited for her. And jealous and crushed. Simultaneously. This friend of mine is a bit older than me. (42). She had her first child 4 years ago, and though they struggled for about a year and a half to conceive (natural conception) they had no other issues. Due to my friend's age, she and her husband figured they'd better jump right back on the train and try for number 2 right away. So, for the past 4 years or so, they've been trying to conceive. ART is not for them, and so, after 4 years, and after celebrating another birthday, she figured it was over. She totally moved on. She gave away all the baby stuff she'd been hanging on to (high chairs, clothes, toys, etc.) some of which I was the happy recipient. She told me, the last time I saw her, that she and her husband knew they would just be a family of 3, and that was fine. Done. Moving on. Next topic.

Then, Blam! Pregnant. A total miracle-surprise.

There have been a lot of these miracle-surprises happening lately. There have been several recently out in the blogosphere that I am aware of. And, there's all the second-hand stories I hear everywhere. (Some one's friend's-sister, who only had one ovary, tried for 5 years,yadda, yadda, yadda.) I have heard so many of these miracle tales over the past 3-4 years that I honestly assumed that eventually, one day, MY miracle-surprise would happen. It is what has kept the flame of hope alive through all of the bad news and evidence to the contrary I've received, that one day, it would happen.

So the overwhelming feeling I had when I hung up the phone was, "Where's MY miracle?"

And the following answer my mind and heart came up with was this. Maybe there is no miracle in store for me. Miracles are miracles because they don't happen every day, or to everyone. They are miraculous because they are "not supposed to happen." And the overwhelming evidence suggests that, after 4 years of wanting and trying to have a baby, there is no miracle in sight. In 4 years, I have never managed to get knocked up naturally. We got pregnant one time, on C.lomid, but it didn't stick. And, each month that passes, my already crappy eggs just get older and more geriatric. So, I am most likely one of the people on the other side of the miracle story: the ones you don't hear about. The ones for whom there IS no miracle. One of the ones that never gets her pot of gold. And, being sad, or angry, or jealous, or sorry for myself, won't change the outcome. It won't change the facts. So, then, why waste the energy feeling angry, jealous, and sorry for myself, if the outcome remains the same? Why?

I cried for a while after I got off the phone with my friend, as all these thoughts were swirling around in my head. And then, I vowed I would not let this bit of news ruin my vacation. And I didn't. Furthermore, I gave myself this cycle "off." I decided to not care (as best I could) about where I was in my cycle, what my ovaries were doing, or any of it. I did not bring along my thermometer, did not do any charting, nothing. Also, I drank wine, ate pizza, sweets, whatever I felt like. I started my mornings with my old friend coffee! I even had a cocktail at lunch, no less, one of our days out and about. Because I felt like it. Ha! I just tried to be present and enjoy myself, and my husband and my son. And it was great. There were even moments where, for the first time in a long time, I just felt "normal." I felt like Me.

And, since that day I decided to try and not care any more about my infertility (a weighty undertaking, but I'm trying) I have been repeating a few things over and over to myself. Mantras, if you will. Of course, the aforementioned, "Being upset about it, will not change the outcome. So don't be upset." "Be fluid" or, "Go with the flow." And, "What will be, will be." Also, every time I look at a pregnant woman, I think, "Some women are made to be pregnant. Some aren't. I'm one of the latter. So be it."

I'm not saying that I have reached some sort of higher ground (as you can tell if you read my last post about being in I.kea). But, it feels better than always expecting a different outcome than what I have received.

So when I was at my acupuncturist's office the other day, she asked me how my mood was. I told her it was pretty good, that I was feeling pretty relaxed after my vacation. And then, I told her about my friend. And, the conversation went something like this:

Acu: How do you feel about that? I can see it is making you weepy.
Me: Well, I wish it were me this time. But it's not. And, I'm beginning to think, it just may not happen for me.
Acu: And how do you feel about that?
Me: I just wish I could stop caring. If I could just open up my brain and remove the wiring that makes me care whether I ever get pregnant or not, then, life would be great.
Acu: What would your life look like if you could do that?
Me: Great. I could move on. I could focus on other things. I could just be a wife to my husband, and a mother to my son, and, I have this AMAZING child! We could get our life back on track, financially. We could stop living like we are on hold--in limbo.
Acu: Yeah?
Me: Yeah!
Me: But I'm not quite there yet.
Acu: But, I think this is how you get there. Day by day. You grieve a little, and you let a little go. And then, one day, you come out on the other side of it.
Me: I would like to get to the Other Side of this. I would like to have my life back.
Acu: Then you will.

Maybe I've had plenty of miracles, but have refused to recognize them, because I've been so caught up in my strangle-hold of trying to have a baby. For instance, is it not a miracle, that, despite the fact that my body refuses to procreate, I have here, right in front of me, a beautiful HEALTHY BABY? Is it not a miracle, that, the biological mother of this amazing child picked Mister and me, out of all the people on the frigging planet, and said, 'Here, I want to give you my Baby'?! Is not abona fide Miracle-Surprise that we got matched with our birthmotherthe very first day our adoption profile went up on our agency's site? Is it not a miracle that this baby loves me, and reaches for me, yes me, when he wants his Mommy?

And, the other thing is, I'm tired. I'm exhausted from the caring about my infertility. I'm tired of wanting and not getting. I'm sick to death of the sad feelings and the jealousy and the distance I have had to put between me and my fertile friends, and, sometimes, the world. I'm so tired of giving a shit, that I could just scream. I am ready to be done. I am not quite done, I know, in my heart, but I truly want to be done. Perhaps that is the first step on my road to recovery. When I think of how life will be after I reach that elusive place of not caring about being infertile any more, it makes me very happy and hopeful. So, perhaps my focus is changing. Changing from reaching that pot of gold (pregnancy) to getting past the point where I'm even looking for it any more. To being satisfied with what I have.

Lastly, I still want to do the IUI. I feel that I must pursue, at this point, what options we have, so at least I will know that I did all that I could. I am keeping the flame of hope lit for now. However, I'm feeling (at this point) less committed to the outcome. As I see it, one of three things will happen with this IUI. 1. I'll actually get pregnant! 2. I won't get pregnant, and when it's all over, I'll really be in that place of saying, 'okay, I'm done.' and I'll move on. 3. I won't get pregnant, but we will learn some new information about my body, and how it responds to the treatment that will be encouraging enough for us to go ahead an give it another try.

I think I am ok with any of those.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Own Creme de la Creme

Okay, so everybody knows about the Creme de la Creme list, right? Yeah, I've been blogging for 5 years, and um, I've never, ever submitted a post to the list. Why? I guess I just never thought I had anything that amazing (or well written) to say. After all, it's just me, Frenchie. Who cares, right? I think after reading and following (and heck worshiping) so many amazing bloggers in this community like Luna, and Lori, and JJ, and Mel (just to name a few) what could I possibly have to add? Well, maybe not much, but as I am starting a new blog (have you visited yet?) and am turning over a new leaf in my life as well....I guess it's time to start taking myself a little more seriously. Ok, so my little submission to the list isn't going to change anyone's life. I'm not going to gain the attention of a magazine editor and it probably won't leave a lasting impression on many people. But, it was important to me. My submission this year was a little post I wrote on one of those days when the absolute awe, gratitude and love for what I had (after so many years of yearning for what I didn't have) just washed over me, and I allowed myself to soak in it for a brief moment before moving on to the next bit of business for the day.

I won't ruin it, I'll wait till the list comes out, and you can read it there (among all the other much more amazing blog posts--there I go diminishing myself again, right?--). But, in the meantime, I think I am going to do my OWN Creme de la Creme here, on this blog, before I say goodbye once and for all. Over the next week, I'll pick a favorite post from each year I've been blogging and put it up here. It will be a nice way for me to reflect and wrap up the journey that I've traveled with this blog--and with all of you--over the past 5 or so years. Also a nice way to wrap up the end of the year, and (gulp) the end of my 30's. (So many transitions right now, yikes!) Anyway, I hope someone out there will read my own personal "gems" but if not, I will enjoy looking back at where I was, only to appreciate where I am all the more.

And if you haven't added YOUR submission to the Creme de la Creme, don't be shy like me--get on over there and add yours!! Happy blogging!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's Time

Infertility has touched my life in a dramatic way. It has not just touched my life, it has shaped my life. I don't think I will ever forget the feelings and raw emotions of those 6 or so years. I can recall just how it felt to be sitting in that doctor's office and being told my baby had no heart beat, I can be transported back that sinking, falling, sick feeling instantly. My palms are getting sweaty as my fingers type this now. That was in 2006. I still feel so much sadness, and so much anger toward the smug Fertility Specialist who told me my chances of conceiving were less than 1%, that when I heard his voice on the radio recently (a commercial for their facility) I almost had to pull over while driving. I remember each and every pregnancy announcement and the sinking into the floor feeling it left me with. And I remember the random, nagging, mosquito-buzzing-like sense of hope that plagued me each and every month for years, hoping something would miraculously change. I remember how much money I sank into special herbal treatments, acupuncture, vitamins, etc., and how much hope went right down the drain with them. I remember hugging my miraculously-pregnant-at-43 friend, and sobbing into her shoulder, ashamed, that I couldn't hold it back, even though I was so happy for her. I remember how humbling it felt when she said it was ok, and that we never had to talk about the pregnancy, she just wanted to see me.

All of those emotions are just a thought, a moment, a mere wrinkle-in-time away. Even though, I sit here, on what many might call "The Other Side."

What's my point? Infertility will always be a part of my life. How can it not be? I believe it has changed who I am. I am certainly more aware, more cautious, and more concerned about other people's feelings. I am able to recognize that weird, pained expression, on another woman's face as I pass her in the mall with my two kids in tow. I was that woman. For years.

However, though Infertility will always be my shadowy companion, it no longer consumes me. It does not define me anymore. And I have a life now that involves so many other things. Things I can fully pay attention to now that the veil of sadness has lifted. I have been extremely blessed with two children. And my life, and my blog have moved on to a different type of existence. I am a mother. I am an adoptive parent. I have a child with special needs. I am a wife. I like to cook. I get frustrated with the ups and downs of parenting. We have recently moved to a new state and we are starting over from scratch. I'm looking forward to new career possibilities. I am spending time examining myself, outside the bubble of Infertility: Who am I? What's going on? What do I want? What do I need? What can I do better? And.... how am I ever going to get a full night's sleep again? :)

Oh yea, and I turn 40 in a couple of months.

How did I get here?

So it is time. Time to start a new blog. Time to feel free to say without any reservation on any given day that maybe my kids are driving me crazy. I know most folks in the throes of IF are not going to want to read about that.

And, although my infertility experience will always be a tactile memory-a shroud of experience I can wrap myself up in at any given moment, I feel it is now time to hang her up in the closet. She's there, right next to my pile of maternity clothes I don't quite know what to do with.

So, if any one is still interested in reading about the ongoing (and mostly boring) life and times of me and me crew, then please visit my new blog:


Monday, November 14, 2011

We Made It

I underestimated how much moving would take out of me, mentally, physically and emotionally. I am sorry for the long silence. There have been lots and lots of post-in-my-head moments that have never made it into 'print'. But I am still here, and all is well.

Here is a brief snippet of what's going on.

10 Things I Love About Our New Life:

1. Bigger House.
We are not all on top of each other anymore. Everyone is happier.

2. Mister loves his job.
When Mister is happy, everyone is happier.

3. Handsome Man is in school.
Clark County School District has been good to us. For the first time since we started this struggle through HM's diagnosis, etc., he is finally--FINALLY-- getting special ed services. And he is thriving. And I get a 3 1/2 hour break, 4 days a week.

4. Our new health insurance is pretty freaking awesome.
No more gigantic bills every time we visit the pediatrician. Jeysus Lordy.

5. Sunshine.
I know California is sunny, but it is like seriously sunny here, even when it's cold. (and yes it does get cold!) No more SADD.

6. Renting is not so bad.
If something breaks, someone else has to fix it (and pay for it). Nuff said.

7. Everything is close.
Seriously, everything and anything I might need is close. And compared to the Bay Area, traffic is virtually non-existent. Seriously, people around here have no idea. If they have to drive like 20 minutes to get somewhere it is a big freaking deal. Me? I'm like, only 20 minutes? Sweeet!

8. Trader Joe's AND Whole Foods nearby.
Need I say more?

9. Cost of living is just basically lower, in general, which is super nice.

10. Did I mention BIGGER HOUSE??

10 Things I Am Struggling With Since Starting Our New Life:

1. I seriously miss my friends, and my familiar surroundings. I'm lonely.

2. I miss being able to drive an hour to see Mister's parents and spend time at their house. (Handsome Man seriously misses grandma and grandpa).

3. People here are weird. Not as friendly as I'm used to.*

4. The heat in the summer time is pretty extreme.
Hard to be outside for longer than 30 minute stretches with the kids during the day and we end up spending a lot of time indoors.

5. Gigantic energy bill from aforementioned summer months; running the A/C 24-7.

6. I miss green things.
Green trees, hills, grass.....and flowers.

7. White walls.
This house has white walls. Not only is it boring but they show every smudge, smear, dirty little hand print. I have invested heavily in the Magic Eraser. We are renting so don't want to deal with painting, at least not right now. Maybe if we end up being here long term....?

8. Dealing with the stress of leaving behind our house in the Bay Area.
Not that we are the only ones going through something similar, but it sucks. And we are not out of the woods yet.

9. I feel pretty isolated.
...ergo, I spend waaay too much time on Ugh. Stupid.

10. Did I mention how much I miss my friends?

*Mister is meeting a lot of really cool people from his work, and so we have had the opportunity to socialize a bit. It will just take time for me to make new friends. It will happen eventually, but it just doesn't happen overnight.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

it's Official...

....we're moving. Mister got a job offer from Big Company out of state. We are going for it. It is going to be a huge change. But, as time has gone on (and the possibility of this company offering him a job became more and more real, aaand we got nearer and nearer to the end of his severance pay) I have started to warm up to the idea of a fresh start. Yes, it will present a whole new set of issues that I will have to contend with: Where to put Handsome Man in preschool in the fall, and who/how/where to talk to about his IEP. Who will work with it? Will they have room for him if a program even exists? Also, a new community, where I know absolutely NO ONE, and at nearly 40 years old, with two young children, I have to go about the seemingly impossible task of making new friends. Which sounds positively exhausting. I can't imagine how I could ever do better than the friends I have surrounded myself with here--and it took a while after we moved here to find and foster these friendships. I am spooked about navigating my way through a whole new city, in a new state...even though I've traveled a bit, I've never officially called anywhere but Northern California my home. Now we are moving to a city that I have never been to....(even though everybody and their kid brother has been there at some point in their lives for a bachelor/bachelorette party, quickie wedding, convention, vacation, or just for the Elvis impersonators...{can you guess where I'm talking about? No. I've never been.}) And then there's the whole business about going back into business. I was looking forward to getting back to work within the next year or so, and also starting a new business partnership. Now what? Start over? In a market I'm totally unfamiliar with, where I have ZERO contacts? Oy. That also sounds positively exhausting and impossible.

But then there's the flip side.

There is something so appealing right now about hitting the RESTART button on our lives. The past many years have been one struggle after another, the biggest and most debilitating and crushing of which has been infertility. It has colored every aspect of my life for so long. Mel at Stirrup Queens has talked about Location Casualties; the places you can't bear to revisit because they hold some horrible memory for you. My world here is full of them. So many places that I must drive by or even visit on a semi regular basis due to my work or just because they are so many and so near: There's the hotel we stayed at the weekend after we learned our first pregnancy was not viable. It was a vain attempt to 'get away' and forget and an excuse not to answer our phones for just a few more days, not to have to answer the horrible question. There's the restaurant we ate in that weekend, where I ordered wine, feeling strangely guilty even though I knew it didn't make a difference to the dead embryo inside me. There's the locations where I attended friends' baby showers, or heard pregnancy announcements and nearly cried my guts out in one bathroom or another, and on and on...And there are many more places that are mixed for me now on the other side of our journey: The hospital where I had my d&c but also the same hospital where I delivered Grace. But, either way, I am surrounded by this gauzy film that sort of covers the lens of my mind's viewfinder. Every where I look, old sadness, new joy, but melded together into one large opaque shroud over everything. How will it be, I wonder, now that things are different, now that I am no longer mired in my Great Sadness, to be somewhere new, somewhere totally devoid of memory and meaning? No reminders of old longings, losses or heartache. Even our house, which I will be sad to leave behind, as it was the home that welcomed both of our beloved children, is also the home where I sat for hours, incapable of moving, during the most suffocating moments in our struggle. How many hours did I spend completely stuck to this couch, drowning in inertia. How many times did I sleep (or not sleep) on this couch when I couldn't stop crying in the middle of the night and didn't want to disturb Mister? I think before we leave I will drag this couch into the front yard and light it on fire! I will dance around it and proclaim: You no longer have a hold on me! I am free! I have ripped through the dark veil of sadness and I will start over!

Can you start over at almost 40?

No one I meet from now on in our new town will have any idea of what came before, what sadnesses I endured or how broken I once was, how fragile our marriage became. Maybe that is good, maybe just what we need. I/we can be whoever we want... I think. Maybe we can forget too.

Who will I be now? Who can I be now...? Is there a more confident, happier, sassier, funnier, kinder, more energetic version of me, waiting out there in the desert?

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Empty Space

I haven't really talked about it to anyone. It is far, far from everyone's mind now, and I don't really want to be a Debbie Downer. But, if my rough calculations are correct, I would be getting ready to, or would have just given birth to my baby right about now, had my ectopic actually been, well, NOT ectopic... I have been thinking a lot about that night that I at once found out I was expecting and then that it would have to end. I feel like there is this hole right now where something is missing. And even though I know with the very logical part of my mind that there is NO WAY we'd have been able to handle another baby right now--especially in light of Mister's recent job loss--I do feel a sadness and a loss. I am sad that there was a baby there--with a beating heart!--that had to be removed from my body. A baby that was real, but had to be left behind, reduced to no more than 'medical waste' in some operating room. I am grieving for that little soul, and even though I know it was not my 'fault'--I feel so sorry. I look at my baby Grace and imagine what her little baby brother or sister would be like. And I think it SUCKS that that could have possibly been the last time for me that I will be pregnant...that will be my body's last memory of pregnancy. My ugly belly scars are an every day reminder of my loss. And I am aware of the empty space inside me where part of my reproductive system is now missing. Most of the time I really try not to think about it but right now I feel like I need to sit with it and mark the loss, as the time that WOULD have been my baby's birth is coming and passing. I love

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day, Mister!

Despite all the uncertainty and stress right now...I know we are so lucky. You are a great Dad, and we have been extremely blessed with these two beautiful children.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

On a Lighter Note

Thank you, everyone for your supportive comments. Thank you, especially Shelby for the insight on how IEP's work--it really does help my anxiety levels. I guess I just feel like I had to swim through wet concrete to get where I am with this process, I worry that starting over will mean a repeat. Maybe it wouldn't be that hard the second time around. I'm sure most cities have their act together than the one I live in. Deep sigh.

We still don't have any job news. The job in SF we were hoping for didn't pan out, so now we're down to the out-of-state one. (Though Mister is still applying to some more companies nearer to home). The out-of-state company is flying him out in a couple of weeks, which seems like ages away. I try to remain as Zen-like as possible, though some days it is impossible--my body belies what is really going on deep inside and suddenly (like the other night from about 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.) I find myself in the midst of a anxiety attack. Double Deep Sigh.


Here are some pics of my kids at our Stepping Stones class. (This is the preschool-like class where parents attend with their kids, and younger siblings are welcome.) For the first time since Grace was born, the past few weeks Handsome Man has been wanting to play with his sister. The other night I even caught him rubbing his sister's head and giving her little kisses. He can't wait to see her in the morning (he usually wakes up before everyone--and we try to keep him quiet and out of Grace's room until she wakes up.) So--despite my fears that his jealousy and anger since we brought Grace home would be life long--Handsome Man loves his sister. She has been completely enamored of him from day one, but I was worried it would never flow in the other direction. Thank you God, I think that things are going to be ok. I can't even express how much this means to me. I was raised basically as an only child (my sister being 16 years older than I and going off to college and living abroad by the time I was 2)... I always wished for a sibling, and when we adopted HM I always wanted for him to have a sibling. So, despite the many on-going challenges I am still dealing with with Handsome Man, this one thing seems to be turning around and I couldn't be happier. These two children will be in each other's lives (God willing) longer than I will be in their lives on this earth. I think having a brother or sister is such a gift. So there you go, my gratitude for this week, despite all the other s.h.i.t.!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Limbo Lower, Now

I have been hiding under a huge rock. I am sorry for those of you who still check on this blog or who still have an interest, that I have been seemingly unable to write. I also have been very bad about checking on my bloggie friends and so I've been really out of touch.

It seems like when one door opens, another one gets slammed in our faces...

All went well at Handsome Man's IEP meeting. (Yes, we got an official meeting). After being fully evaluated by the psychologist and speech therapist (both of whom were very thorough, pleasant, helpful and understanding) we received an Individual Education Plan for HM. He will be enrolled in a preschool that is part of the Head Start program, and his IEP allows him to have an aide (he will be among 8 students in the class that have IEP's and there are 2 aides for those kids, in addition to the teacher and teacher's aide for the class in general). Of course we are already at the end of the school year (hard to believe I started this process back in October!) so all of this will take effect at the start of the school year in September. What a huge obstacle overcome, and a huge sigh of relief on my part. Yeah.

Then the door slammed.

Mister lost his job.

This all happened about a month ago, and I have been in a huge funk ever since. Of course Mister isn't exactly happy about it either. He's been looking for work and we are still in limbo. One of our potential options for work would require us to move to another state. And that's all I can say about it right now. Which means all that hard work I did for getting the IEP gets flushed down the toilet and I have to start over. It means all my recent plans and excitement about getting back to work and making my 'comeback' and the new venture I have been planning with a new business partner...flushed down the toilet. I am completely cut off at the knees and it feels like the last several months of my life have been a total waste.

Then of course the WORST possible outcome would be Mister gets no job offers, local or in another state, and we run out of money.

I have been living in a total state of limbo for the past month and though I've been trying to stay positive and hopeful and pragmatic, it's starting to wear on me. I can't sleep well, I'm tired and cranky ALL THE TIME. I'm depressed.

It is hard feeling like you have absolutely NO control whatsoever over your own destiny, but I guess I should be used to that feeling after 6 or so years of struggling with family building. Really, why this comes as any surprise, I don't know. I guess I just thought there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel: We were out of debt, Mister's job was going great (as far as we knew), we had two children we had always wanted, I was looking ahead to new horizons on my future career path (baby #3 plans on hold--but that's another post), HM finally was going to get services and be in school, freeing me up a bit to follow some goals.... then, BLAM!

I just haven't known what to say, which is why I haven't said anything. I've been shuffling through my days waiting for good news, a sign, some indication of what's coming next so I can start planning, and preparing. But for now I am still in the extended holding pattern where I can't plan anything, not knowing whether we'll still be here come fall.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Squeaky Mommy Gets the Grease

Below is the letter (slightly edited for privacy reasons) that I sent to our Board of Education regarding Handsome Man's botched assessment and their denial of services. I sent a copy to Mrs. G., the woman who so blithely told me on the phone 'no further action was required' and also told me, when I asked if the assessment could be challenged or re-done, 'no there is no way to challenge it, the assessment stands.' Bullshit. I contacted a parent advocacy group and found that she was flat-out lying. They gave me a form letter to start from that I used to pen my little missive here, requesting a comprehensive assessment. I also sent a letter to the director of the Special Ed Dept. (her boss) and a few other key people in the mix.


Dear Ms. G____:

I am the parent of {Handsome Man}, who will be turning 4 years old this month. On November 17, 2010, your secretary, Miss H_____, took my initial application for an IEP assessment over the phone and at the same time, {Handsome Man's} psychologist, Dr. _____, faxed you her clinical assessment pertaining to {HM's} ADHD and co-morbid ODD. The file sat on your desk for over a month. At the time he was attending preschool at ________ Nursery School. Not only did I request and IEP for {HM}, so did the school, with great urgency.

In January, he was assessed by Mr. J_____ through your “Child Find/SELPA” program to determine eligibility for an IEP.

During the assessment, {HM} was displaying his typical problems pertaining to his disability. He could not sit still, listen, take direction, or answer questions directly. However, Mr. J__ went out of his way, taking {HM} outside to run up and down the hill, in between each question or task to get him through the sequence of testing. He even told me at the end of the assessment, that no other assessor would have been able to get him through the tests. He took at least twice the allotted time to get {HM} through the tests. To be frank, I feel that the bare test results are not a fair depiction of the challenges that {Handsome Man} faces. While I feel that Mr. J__ would be a wonderful instructor for {HM}, it seems that by giving {HM} special treatment in order to answer the questions, Mr. J____ “threw” the test. After the assessment was completed, I called you the following week (as I had not received anything from your office--{and still have not to this day}--) and was told that {HM} was not approved for an IEP and that “no further action is needed.” Ms. G____. I ask you, how a student who cannot sit still, cannot focus, take direction, interpret questions, or socialize with other students or teachers in an appropriate manner can possibly be able to participate in a school environment, and therefore learn and become educated along with his peers? If he cannot sit through a three-hour preschool program, or do the preschool curriculum, how is he expected to move on to Kindergarten at age 5? In fact, since your rejection, I have had to take {HM} out of his preschool because his teachers simply could not continue to teach {HM}, not because of any failing on their part, but because his behavior became too unmanageable and was a disruption to the rest of the class.

It is my understanding, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that children with ADHD and related issues, need to be considered for eligibility under the ‘Other Health Impairment” category.

I am requesting a comprehensive assessment in all areas related to suspected disability to determine whether {HM} is eligible for special education and/or related services either under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (including the Other Health Impairment category) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

I am requesting this assessment because as stated above, {HM} cannot participate in basic preschool curriculum and is therefore going to be (if not already) behind his peers, educationally.The following interventions and accommodations have already been tried: Attending class with a parent, special accommodations by teachers to give him more time for transitions, sitting next to teacher during circle time, warnings, time-outs, extra exercise, and medications for ADHD, and dietary changes. However, my student continues to struggle in school with sitting still, taking direction, interacting with students and teachers, following through with tasks, appropriate behavior in the classroom and on the playground, impulsive behaviors, disruptive behaviors, and emotional outbursts.

As stated above, {HM} has been diagnosed with ADHD and ODD by Dr. _____, a licensed clinical child psychologist.

It is my understanding that I will hear back from you in writing within 15 days of this request. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you and your staff.


{Angry Mom}

Boom! Take that Mrs. G!! You could say I was a little pissed and it probably showed. But, guess what? I've got the department speech therapist and the department child psychologist coming to my house in two weeks to do two assessment of Handsome Man. I have not heard from Mrs. G. but I suspect her boss instructed her NOT to contact me, because I was already pissed enough. I have received phone calls from her boss and another coordinator within the department with apologies. I was amazed at how fast things started to happen once I sent the letter. The only reason the assessments aren't happening sooner is due to the two week Spring Break happening right now.

I am Angry Mama Bear--Hear ME ROAR!!

Now just crossing my fingers that we do get the desired result from these upcoming assessments: help with Handsome Man for school and at home!!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Long Time, No Post

A quickie:

Still trying to figure things out for Handsome Man. It is just not going to happen overnight. On the recommendations of some of my other Mom friends, I am switching pediatricians to one closer to home--whom my aforementioned Mom friends really like. We would like to see a psychiatrist, but found out with our current insurance we will have to pay out of pocket (to the tune of 200.00 a pop) until our deductible is met.

I did some digging and found that the Board of Education is required to review our case again--under what's called an IEE (Individual Education Evaluation). So I have a sample form letter I need to fill in with our particular info, and then send via registered mail. Then they will be legally bound.

We have stopped giving him his medication because he was just. not. sleeping. Sleeping has gotten better since we stopped the meds. We will see--it's hard to know what's what since we were having sleep issues before the meds anyway. Still, he needs to be on something during the day, and I am going to ask the new doctor (we have an appointment on Thursday) about the non-stimulant meds. In the meantime, I have pulled him out of preschool, as it was causing much too much anxiety for him (and me). We are going to try a program called 'Stepping Stones' which parents attend with kids (since that is what I was having to do anyway) only this program is set up for moms who have babies too (they can bring them) and it is less expensive. Also it goes in 6 week increments, so if after 6 weeks it's not working for us, then no biggie.

We are considering Montessori, (which we can't afford) or possibly moving to another county where we can get better resources. (Which will mean walking away from our house and renting somewhere else). Mister has a meeting scheduled with an attorney next week to discuss these possibilities.

Grace is getting bigger by the day. She has two teeth and is starting to cruise. Time is going by way too fast.

Oh yeah, and I turned 39 on Feb 10th. Dear good God. Of course this birthday didn't sting like previous birthdays. I have more wrinkles and grey hairs than I used to, but I also have my 2 kids, so... it's all good.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Okay, So THAT Happened...

...As feared. I called the BOE this morning regarding Handsome Man's assessment. Their answer was that since he scored well on the tests (i.e. he is smart--but we knew that) they are NOT going to move forward and provide us with an IEP (Individual Education Plan). I have been on the phone all morning and have had a good cleansing cry.... and I think I am now ready to FIGHT. I spoke to HM's psychologist and she basically said that not getting an IEP was bullshit AND illegal, re: Federal and State Mandates. I have some homework to do this week. *Sigh*


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Quick Update

Thank you everyone for the comments/support. The appointment for Handsome Man went really well (I think). The gentleman that did his assessment was an absolute saint. He kept taking HM outside to run in between questions/tasks because HM could just not. sit. still. (Came to find out that this man also coaches track and field--ha ha). Anyway, it took us a while to get through all the questions and tasks since we had to keep taking running breaks in order to get HM's attention/focus, but he actually did really well. In a way I'm afraid he did too well and he won't be let into the program, but the assessor assured me he would let the board know exactly what he had to do and how hard he had to work to get HM to focus long enough to answer questions. He also told me (and of course I already knew this) that HM is very smart. Yep. I know. We just need some extra help so he can use that brain and learn in school!!

So now we wait for the letter which will tell us 1. if he's "in" and 2. what their recommendations are going forward. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Handsome Man: Please Send Good Thoughts

So things seem to be not getting better with Handsome Man, despite our best efforts so far. After several visits with the child psychologist (who originally diagnosed his ADHD/ODD) we were encouraged to try some medication. We were against it at first, but, as time went on, we realized we needed to do something to break the cycle of bad behavior=negative attention=more bad behavior. We're not just talking about your typical 3-year-old stuff. I can go into more detail at some point, but let's suffice it to say that we felt desperate. Not just for ourselves, but for him. It breaks our hearts to see our beautiful boy struggling so much and dealing with so much. It is not that he is a "bad" kid, "spoiled" or anything like that (though that may be what it looks like to the outside observer--just ask any of the people gawking at us the other day when he had a major meltdown at the grocery store). He can not control his impulses. At all. And his emotions are all over the place and totally out of control. He is suffering, really and truly. It is like he is trapped in his own mind/body that is just not functioning the way it should, the way it could. So, PLEASE don't send me hateful messages because I put my preschooler on medication. We debated. We tried special diets first. We consulted with a doctor of TCM also (and still are). But we needed to do more. And so, at first the medication seemed to help. And, then, not really. If anything, it seems like things are getting worse. Our follow up yesterday with the child psychologist confirmed this.

Anyway, the reason for this post is, really, to ask everyone for their prayers or good thoughts for us TOMORROW. Because tomorrow we (finally!) have our screening scheduled with the County Board of Education/Special Ed program. They will assess Handsome Man and then we will find out if his condition qualifies him for the program. WE NEED THIS. If he gets into the program we expect they will have a behavioral therapist who will be able to work one-on-one with him at his school, and they will create an "IFP" or an "IEP" for us--and I'm hoping, we'll get plugged into a greater network of help that we can utilize. I am still trying to sort everything out and figure out where to get help and how. When you find out your child has a special need, it's not like someone hands you a manual on what to do. It's more like following a trail of breadcrumbs.

As far as the meds go, the pediatrician said we could safely up his dose, based on his weight/height etc.. I am going to try this and monitor him carefully. The psychologist said we should be able to see improvement within one week if it is working. If not, then we need to try something else. I asked her for a referral for a child psychiatrist, who could help us with this more on the medication side. Obviously, I don't want to drug my child without cause, or forever, but we need to find a way in with him, so that we can even get to the point where he can benefit and handle say, weekly sessions with a behavioral therapist. At this point he's not even able to do school, unless I'm there to shadow him throughout the day. This is difficult for me to do since I have Grace with me.

Please hold us in your thoughts tomorrow morning, and hopefully we will be getting some more help/answers soon.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Perfect Moment Monday: Wagon Ride

When Handsome Man was a young toddler, his grandparents gave him a red radio-flyer wagon. The wagon is outfitted with two seats, which fold up and down, and seat-belts, for pulling around precious toddler belongings, or for pulling around precious toddlers themselves. HM absolutely loved his wagon. And I loved pulling him around in it, too. Our trips to the park were just that much more Norman-Rockwellian: my toe-headed boy in his bright red wagon, and me the picture of parenthood towing him along, singing silly songs or making choo-choo sounds. But, as every silver lining seems to have a grey cloud to many an Infertile, I always looked wistfully at that empty second seat. I envied the invisible multitude of parents out there pulling around full wagons, those that had purchased this model to hold not one, but two little kids. It made me sad not just for me, but for Handsome Man, too: I never wanted to raise him as an only child.

Then, last spring, amazingly, Grace came into our family. As the spring turned into summer, I thought about that wagon, but I felt she was still too little and fragile for wagon rides. And, Handsome Man was moving on to bigger things now, like a big boy bike and cool helmet. I figured that by the time Grace was robust enough to ride in the wagon and go over bumps without sliding down or falling over, that Big Brother would deem the wagon 'baby stuff' and want no part of it.

Then yesterday, the sun came out long enough to warrant a trip to the park down the street. Grace was sleeping, so HM and I went together while Mister stayed home. At the park there were 3 other little kids--all riding their bikes. Handsome Man then wanted to ride his bike too--so we trudged back home to get it. When HM gets something in his head, it is very, very hard to dissuade or redirect him; this is part of being a three-year-old, and part of it is his ADHD. So, when we got back home, got his bike, put air in the tires, and then realized we'd left his helmet behind at grandma and grandpa's house the previous weekend, the melt-down began. Which of course woke baby sister up from her nap. The pleasant afternoon was about to turn into another one of our marathon melt-downs that can go on for hours. I could feel my muscles tightening and my mood plummeting. Then, as a Hail-Mary and said, "would you like to take a ride in your wagon?" Amazingly, he looked at me, stopped crying, and smiled: Yes! It worked! "Can baby sister come with us?" I ventured. Sometimes he is less than enthusiastic about sharing his things, or more importantly, his time with Mommy, with his baby sister. To my great surprise his answer this time was "Yeah!"

So there I was, pulling around the little red wagon with two kiddos. Grace loved her first wagon ride. Handsome Man is almost too big, his long lanky legs taking up a lot of space, but he seemed to thoroughly enjoy being pulled around, and kept saying, "Faster Mommy!" Our trip to the park eventually turned into a long walk around the neighborhood, met with many smiles from the neighbors. I couldn't help but think of how lucky I was, and what a very perfect moment it was. I know by the end of summer (or even sooner) Handsome Man will really be too big for his little wagon and like many of his other old toys it will become Grace's by default. So I was very grateful to have a wish fulfilled. I should have taken a picture, but I was too busy enjoying the moment as it happened. I did however, take a picture the other day of a similar moment while shopping at Cos.tco. The only place I know where the shopping carts are double-wide: fit with two seats for little ones. Again, even though HM is really too big for the seat, he wanted to ride this time. Maybe he was just tired from all the walking, or maybe he just wanted to ride along with his little sis. Either way, precious.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Weight of It

As the days speed by me at the beginning of this new year, I find myself gasping for air, to find a moment of peace to reflect on the year that was....that I am leaving behind.

2010 was a Big year. It began with me joyfully entering my third trimester. For the first time in my life I was enjoying a healthy pregnancy and I was relishing every minute of it. The year also started with us taking on the project of turning our small one-car garage into a third bedroom, to expand our minuscule house in order to make more room for our growing family. All seemed well, like things couldn't be better. But it was soon clear that with all this expansion and joy, there would be some pain and sacrifice. It became obvious that I would have to make the very tough decision to close my business. A business that I had tended to and watched grow over some 13 or so years. But, due to the faltering economy, and the financial needs of an expanding family, the (mathematical) writing was on the wall. I would have to let it go. I could not afford (financially and energetically) support a business that was not supporting me. And so I grieved--really grieved-- the loss of my first "baby" and started transitioning my life and mind toward being a full-time mom. Of course, I did this with gratitude, too. Of course having this baby, and these two children, was what I always wanted, more than anything else in the world, and I was aware of that. But, still it was painful to say goodbye. Then, my darling Grace was born--a little earlier than expected. The C-section was not how I envisioned bringing my child into this world, and that too was a sadness, but again, I was aware of the big picture: A healthy baby, which was the most important thing of all! And, to my great surprise and immense joy, she was a SHE...the daughter I had long dreamed of. The next several weeks were more difficult than I could have imagined. Mister did not get a lot of time off of work, and I was overwhelmed with taking care of a newborn, and a three year old who was not reacting well to being an older brother. He reacted with anger, frustration and even violence (toward me) and I cried and cried, worrying that he would never come to love his little sister. Add to this the fact that in the early days Grace was not putting on weight, and we fretted. Breastfeeding didn't go well, and I hated my body once again for not doing what it was supposed to do. Add to this some postpartum depression, and the promise of help from my mother-in-law that did not materialize, and there were moments where I just didn't know if I could do it.

Somehow, like millions of women do every day, I did it.

Then as the spring turned into summer, we moved forward as a family, and I juggled the responsibility of being a full time mommy to two kids, while fulfilling the last of my work obligations and managed to produce about a dozen more weddings from May through October. It was clear, that I was making the right choice. It was no easy task. And what made it even more clear that I needed to be at home, was the realization and confirmation by professionals, that my son has ADHD. The diagnosis was at once a relief (ok I'm not crazy!) and a stress (holy crap, what do we do?) This is a question that we are still trying to answer, and as we move into 2011, will be at the top of my priority list. Many of my new year's goals (I don't make resolutions) will have to do with getting Handsome Man the help that he needs, and the help that we need as a family to cope with this the best way we can.

On the day that I completed the last wedding for my business, in October, my beautiful Grace turned 6 months old. And started crawling. I thanked God that I would be around this time to see every new accomplishment my baby would make--unlike with Handsome Man's first year, when I worked SO much.

Summer turned to Fall (my favorite time of year) and I enjoyed my newfound 'freedom' from work--I cooked, made home made baby foods, we carved pumpkins, I volunteered at preschool, and we looked forward to the coming Holiday season.

Then, the day before Thanksgiving, we discovered at once that I was pregnant, and that it was not to be. An emergency surgery, my second abdominal surgery in a year, and a cancelled Thanksgiving. I am still sad but at the same time grateful every time I look in the backseat as I drive down the road and see my two beautiful children sleeping in their carseats, or playing together on the living room floor. Every time I hear Grace giggle and every time Handsome Man runs up to me for an unsolicited hug.

We rang in the New Year on a happy note, celebrated with friends who also have a new baby. We made a trip to the snow and then cooked a beautiful meal together. I started out this year a totally new person. A much stronger person for the difficulties I've overcome. A happier person who is no longer carrying around the shroud of sadness about being infertile. I am not dragging around my envy and longing. I have everything I want, even if there is much that I would like to accomplish still, and like to have. Whatever happens, or doesn't happen, I know we'll be okay, that I'll be okay because I've made it this far. There are lots of struggles ahead. Ones that I'm aware of, and ones I haven't realized yet. I would like to say "I'm ready! Bring it on!" But the truth is, I don't know if I'm ready or not. I know I have limitations, but I also know that it will be fine because I'm starting 2011 liking myself a whole lot more than I used to. I am more aware than ever of my many shortcomings, but I'm more secure in my strengths. I am learning about myself.

Looking back on the year behind me, I acknowledge the losses, and accept them, because I have gained so much. When I weigh the sadnesses and the struggles against the joy and the gifts I've received, the scales are tipped well toward one direction. My cup runneth over.