Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's the holdiay season!

Y'all. We have a real Christmas tree, and M helped decorate it. Having a toddler is fucking cool, so much of the time. Her language skills are fantastic and she's funny and I love her. There's not much new with her case - her dad only had one visit in November due to a medical thing, and because it was medical stuff the missed visits don't count against him, which pisses me off because when she finally visited again, it freaked her out and made her cry. I've spoken with her attorney and with the pediatrician and with the worker, and we're just waiting for the stupid papers to be filed STILL.

M's birthday is coming up, then we have Christmas, then we have the anniversary of her arrival in early January, so lots of busy craziness in the coming weeks. Nora is down to one or two feedings a night, so I'm hoping to get to one consistently so I don't collapse from exhaustion.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hello, hello

1. M had a visit with her biological mom this week. It was the first time M had seen her mom in 18 months. I requested to be allowed to attend, so M could have someone she was familiar with, and the worker reported that the mom said she wasn't trying to be a bitch or anything but she didn't want me there. I'm choosing to look at it this way: The mom knows the termination is coming. She will almost certainly wait until the last minute and then surrender her rights, because if she surrenders she can request visits. She's comfortable with the worker (they've known each other for about five years) and it's scary as hell to start visiting a child you haven't seen in over a year, but a lot more scary to do so when it's at the whim of the strangers who have been raising that child. I'm trying to be positive about this, because of course it would be better for M to have a relationship with her mom, but damn does it suck to see her wrecked by visits over and over again. The night of a visit she cycles between being super clingy, and naughty on purpose, and silly and manic. It's rough. And now that she's able to communicate, she tells us she doesn't want to go on visits, and it really sucks that that doesn't matter to anyone but us.

2. Other than visits, nothing is new with her case. The worker reported that the termination paperwork was "half done" but I have no idea what that means in terms of time. Our next court date is scheduled for January, but the worker remains optimistic we'll be in before then to have the first hearing about termination. Oh, and the dad attended every single visit for a whole month (all of October) for the first time ever, and then canceled his first visit in November. And they're changing the visit times AGAIN because of the dad's bullshit, so that's pretty cool for M.

3. We're in the new house and it's starting to feel like home. The stuff we need for daily living is all unpacked, so now we have to decide where we're keeping stuff like outgrown baby clothes or Christmas decorations or whatever. We are making slow progress, because by the time both girls are in bed we're both just ready to collapse, and it's hard to make ourselves do stuff like paint all of the ugly celery-green trim in the upstairs hall when there's a new season of Parks and Recreation on Netflix.

4. Nora is still awesome and funny and huge - she'll be five months old this week, and she's wearing six-to-nine-month clothes. She discovered on Thursday that she can get her foot to her mouth, which is pretty funny to watch. She laughs when she sees me and my heart just about explodes every time.

5. This past week has capital-S Sucked. Being at work and away from the girls was harder than it's been in a month. Work has been annoying and I've been tense and grumpy just about every minute I'm there. I cried when M's mom showed up for the visit and there was no call from the worker that the mom had changed her mind and I could come. And then I got my period for the first time in over a year and it all made sense. I don't really know how to have a period anymore. I got super indignant that this shit happens every goddamn month, too. What is that about?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pants party.

Things are still progressing around here. I don't have the energy to devote to regular blogging, but that means that any time I pop in, I feel like I'm just doing the same update every time:
1. Nora is still the fucking coolest. She just wants to hang out and I desperately wish our finances made it possible for me to stay home with her and M, but I know that going into debt to do so is a bad idea in the long run.
2. Nothing really to report with M's case. Her dad has been so inconsistent that the new worker (who is still doing as little with the case as she can while our worker's on maternity leave) decided to only extend one of his visits instead of both, so now she has up to three hours of visits a week. They had to change the visits to the morning so now Andy and I can't pick her up, which makes me sad. The termination paperwork still hasn't been filed. I also had to make a few phone calls today because we haven't been paid in two months - we've been having our mail forwarded and it turns out they won't forward checks from the county. Would've been fucking cool for M's temporary worker, her regular worker, or our worker to have mentioned that, since they all knew we were moving. We're not desperate for the money or anything, but I'm certain the county wouldn't have ever tried to make up those two months if I hadn't called.
3. The hardwoods are being done in the house this week, and we're going to start painting on Sunday. There's a lot of painting that we want to do and we're trying to figure out the logistics of painting with two little kids. Any suggestions there would be welcome.

And now, something a little more interesting. Here are words and phrases that I've heard in the rhythmic noises produced by my breast pump:
- Rachael (I hear this a lot, and it's kind of creepy)
- Apple
- Westeros (why yes, I had been watching a lot of Game of Thrones)
- Bob Ross
- Wacko
- Cello
- Let's go

If you have experience with pumping, please reassure me that this isn't just me.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Blogging break over!

Hello, internet friends. Here is what is happening around here:

1. Our baby is still the greatest. She's eleven weeks old and so happy and laid back and she just wants to hang out all the time.

2. It's awesome that she's so awesome, but it makes it way harder to be back at work. I went back three weeks ago and I hate being away from her so, so much. We talked about me going part-time, but our benefits are through my job so if I dropped my hours we'd have to get them through Andy's work, for more money and less coverage. So mostly I just get really teary a lot, and Andy does drop-off so I'm not a weepy mess. I rush to pick the girls up every afternoon and spend as much time in the evening holding Nora as is possible.

3. M is still a funny sweet lovely kid, and she still adores Nora. Today she walked by me and smooched the top of Nora's head, absentmindedly almost, as I was holding the baby. Our usual worker is still out on leave, and the new worker is in no rush to do anything at all with M's case. This is good in that her dad's visits haven't been extended (which the judge ordered in July), and really really shitty in that she hasn't done anything to get the paperwork filed to terminate M's parents' rights. Our usual worker is back next month so I'm trying to not freak too much.

4. We're still waiting for a closing date on our house. It is frustrating to have to wait on banks and mortgage dudes and appraisers and who even knows who else. But I'm daydreaming about autumn in our new-old house, with pumpkins on the front porch and pretty leaves changing color on our street!

I'm fucking tired a lot still so I've been keeping up with reading the internets while I'm pumping at work (p.s. I HATE pumping at work) but can't be bothered to post here much. I'll try not to be away for a month again though!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Quick court and house updates

1. Court. Nothing changed, really. The dad's new lawyer argued for extending the dad's visits, which the judge approved. So now instead of the very bare minimum (one-hour supervised visits two times a week), he's got one step up (two-hour supervised visits two times a week). The worker is switching the time back to mornings to make it easier on M. They haven't filed the termination paperwork yet and probably won't for another month or so (UGH). M's mom was delighted to see pictures of M and says she's back on track and trying to start visits and wants to really try to get M back. I told her that we are so happy to hear she's doing well and hope she continues to do so, and that if she doesn't feel that it's successful we want her to be part of M's life if she stays with us. I worded it more nicely, though. Oh, and according to the dad he only sees his new baby when the mom's in town, which I'm guessing means that he doesn't see her at all. Why can't he go after that kid instead of M??

2. The seller of our house didn't agree to give us any money for the garage issues but we're buying it anyway. We'll be closing in early September. Which is great, because it's been two and a half weeks with my folks and we're starting to feel that friction that comes with too much time in close proximity - nothing serious, just little annoyances. It's a big relief to me to have a finish line in sight. Also I've been watching a lot of HGTV while I'm nursing or pumping, to get ideas and because I haven't had cable in years and holy shit, there's a lot of garbage on tv.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Oops, forgot I had a blog.

Hello, hello! I forgot I had a blog for a minute there. We've been happily learning how to be a family of four, plus also we sold our house and moved in with my parents. You know. No big deal. Life as usual.

This baby is still awesome and I'm still loving every second with her. She has outgrown her newborn-sized clothes and it amazes me that my body is responsible not just for growing her but also for every single ounce and inch she's gained since birth. That's some primal mammalian shit right there. Breastfeeding is not bad for me, praise Yeezus, except when she decides to eat every hour on the hour all day and then it's RIP, nipples, for a day or two. I'm off work this week and two more weeks and I pretty much want to hold her every minute of those weeks. She's five weeks old and grins delightedly when you talk to her, so you'd be doing the same thing if you were me.

Fun housing thing: back at the beginning of June we put in a low offer on a house that hit pretty much everything on our "YES!" list but that had a few quirks. Well, to be brief, after a lot of back-and-forth where they tried to get us to give them more money and we kept saying "No, really, that's our best offer. You can say no it it, but we don't have more money than that.", they finally got desperate and accepted the offer as it was originally written. WHAT? But then we had the inspection yesterday, and it uncovered some structural issues in the detached garage, plus confirmed that yeah, buying a house that was built in 1850 will mean we'll eventually be putting out money for upgrading shit like plumbing. So we're waiting to see if the seller will give us money for the garage and then deciding if we buy the house with the 100% perfect location and a bunch of weird small-to-large issues, or if we walk away and start the search all over. Because you all know how much I love uncertainty! It's so much fun!

Speaking of uncertainty! We have court for M tomorrow. I'm pretty sure the paperwork for termination of parental rights hasn't been filed yet, so nothing will happen. Just kidding, even if that's been filed, I'm pretty sure nothing will happen tomorrow. I'll be bringing Nora with me to court, so the classy people being served by our county's Family Court will possibly be getting a glimpse of my nipples. So for once maybe I'll be the spectacle in that waiting room, instead of the yokels yelling about felonies or the teenage girl in a tiara and sweatpants and socks but no shoes. (I love the Family Court waiting room a real lot, you guys. No joke.)

M is still dealing with all the changes in her life pretty well. In the space of a month and a half, she got a new sister, moved in with her grandparents, and moved from the baby room to the toddler room at daycare. She is coping so much better than we could have hoped. Slightly more meltdowns than normal, but nothing too crazy. The only thing that has surprised me is that she's decided she is scared of the bathtubs here. We've tried the big whirlpool tub (she loved the one at my sister's), but even with me in there with her it was a no. We also tried the super-fancy light blue tub in the bathroom with the matching light blue toilet, sinks, and wall and floor tiles (thanks, 1960s!) and that was also deemed too scary. So she's been getting a lot of scrubdowns with soapy washcloths while we work on getting more comfortable with the tubs. It makes me sad to see my confident brave girl so scared, but I know it's mostly just a reaction to so much change. Poor sweet kid.

I'll try to update soon with results from court!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Oh hello, hormones!

Watching The Jeff Probst Show - I didn't know that was a thing until yesterday, and I don't actually know who Jeff Probst is except that he has a talk show (is he famous?) - and some dude just proposed to his girlfriend in a totally cheesy way and I still teared up. THANKS, 'MONES!

We're all still doing well over here. Hormones are fun, because they seem to basically amplify whatever I'm feeling. Tuesday was my first day with just me and the baby (Andy back to work, M to daycare), and I missed Andy and M so much all day. I actually had to drop something off at daycare for M and she cried for me when I left and I sat in my car crying for about five minutes before I could pull it together enough to drive home (she had a visit that afternoon and she gets picked up from daycare and I couldn't deal with the logistics of switching that, so bringing her home with me wasn't a great option). I'm having a much harder time not knowing what's going on with her future, and I want her around a lot. I mean, not enough to keep her home from daycare, because girl is ENERGETIC and I'm still exhausted and recovering from shooting a human out of me, but I miss her more and stuff, and I find myself wanting to snuggle her out of every little toddler freakout. She doesn't think that's a great idea, because she's only ever been interested in snuggling when it's on her terms, but it doesn't keep me from trying.

Oh, I talked to our new worker yesterday and she told me they've finally started the paperwork to terminate M's parents' rights, but that she thinks it's very likely that the dad will get a suspended judgment (basically, an extra year to get his shit together, subject to specific conditions). Her dad's been very consistent with his visits for May and June, but two months out of 17 isn't enough to convince me that he is really invested in M. Plus, you know, hormones, so I'm freaking about losing her and all. We have a service plan review next week and then a court hearing in three weeks, so I have LOTS OF FEELINGS.

Nora is still awesome and is growing fast. M was formula-fed, of course, so it's weird to not know exactly how much Nora's eating at a time. She gained almost a pound in a week, so it looks like we're doing fine!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I had a baby!

Internet! I HAVE A NEW BABY!

She finally arrived on Father's Day after 36-ish hours of labor. Andy was born on Father's Day, incidentally, and she shares a birthday with our goddaughter, her cousin. She's so fucking cool.

Labor and delivery did not go exactly as planned, as you might have guessed when I mentioned THIRTY-SIX-PLUS HOURS. It started with regular contractions on Friday night and lasted through Sunday at noon. We found out about two hours before the baby was born that she was face-up, which explains the very slow progression and the seriously painful back labor that I didn't identify as back labor until afterwards. I'm sure you all know that with my hippie leanings I was planning to go med-free if I could, but I ended up getting an epidural at about 8 centimeters so I could try to rest before I needed to push, and I'm really glad I did, because while I was dozing my body relaxed enough that the baby started to turn, so she could come out the right way. She was 7 pounds, 15 ounces and is perfectly healthy. Her name is Eleanor Jane, and we call her Nora.

I'm feeling incredibly lucky to be one of those moms who just can't stop staring at the baby, all blissed out and amazed that she came out of me and that she's totally perfect. I've struggled with depression in the past and know that having a history with depression makes postpartum depression more likely, so Andy and I are both keeping an eye out for symptoms, but so far I just couldn't be happier. I'm so amazed by her eyelashes and her little toes and her skinny chicken legs and that I made all of them with my own body.

M is adjusting very well and is incredibly sweet to the baby. She is still very much a toddler, so she happily kisses the baby and loves to snuggle her, but hollers for attention when we're absorbed with Nora. We've been working on giving her lots of extra love and snuggles and attention, while still being consistent with rules and boundaries. I think, all things considered, she is doing incredibly well.

I am currently sitting in my living room in my period underwear, doing some skin-to-skin time with the baby, with a spare swaddle blanket handy to catch spare drips of breastmilk, because it turns out that shit can just leak out on its own. I imagine Kim Kardashian is doing the same thing right now. Pretty glamorous!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Let's hear it for maternity leave!

No, I haven't had this kid yet. I just am so fucking tired all the time that instead of working till my due date, as I originally planned, I'll be starting my maternity leave on Wednesday of this coming week. It makes no sense for me to start a new project at work and then mostly just sit and stare at stuff and wish I were napping, and then be exhausted when labor finally hits. I am REALLY PUMPED about getting to nap. Depending on how I'm feeling, I also have exciting plans to clean the bathrooms and bake some stuff, like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and granola bars and the like, to have on hand after the baby arrives.

We went to a wedding last night and despite my best efforts I was unable to dance her out. I did plenty of my classic wedding dance move - pelvic thrusts - and got a whole lot of people to join in. I considered, but ultimately decided against, walking off the dance floor, spilling a cup of water, and then standing over it looking panicked, just to fuck with people.

Have I mentioned that M's worker, the one we like so much, is pregnant as well, and due twelve days after I am? She'll be out for FOUR MONTHS so we'll have a new worker for that time. M's worker really likes the new one and says she's on her game, so maybe, just maybe, the paperwork for termination of parental rights will be started and/or filed by the time the regular worker is back. (Yes, that's the paperwork that could have been filed in April. You can guess how optimistic I am about it happening any time soon.)

Oh, things are moving along with our house. We accepted an offer (the first one we got) and have a "sale pending" sign in the yard now. We put in an offer on one we liked but knew it was very low, so we don't expect anything to come of it. It's looking certain at this point that we'll sell our house and then move in with my parents for a few months while we finish the buying process. Because nothing screams "SUCCESS!" like moving in with your parents at the age of 28 with your husband and a toddler and a newborn and two dogs! (In fact, my parents have plenty of room and are thrilled with the idea and will be delighted to chase M around while I deal with the newborn, so it will be as okay as it could be.)

Maybe one of these days I'll get back to posting interesting stuff! Maybe!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Nothing new.

Dudes, I have been too tired to remember to blog. Also, because we've been keeping the house super clean, my computer has been actually put away, and getting it out and turning it on seems pretty complicated some nights.

I'm 36 and a half weeks along now, and feeling kind of huge and very tired. I had an appointment with my midwife today wirh my first internal exam, where she stuck her hand up in my bizzzz to find out if my cervix is up to anything. Turns out I'm one centimeter dilated and about 50% effaced. For those of you playing along at home, this means exactly nothing about when or how I'll go into labor. It does indicate that my cervix knows something is going on and that it plans to get involved, which is good news. The baby is also sitting much lower, which means she  occasionally headbutts my cervix, resulting in a phenomenon I like to call Vagina Lightning. FUN.

M's case is exactly where it was last time I blogged. They still haven't even started the terminaton paperwork. Oh, the worker did finally confirm that the dad's girlfriend
is pregnant. Apparently she was due this week with a little girl. And the worker saw the dad's house and said there was no crib, despite the dad telling us at court in  February that he had a room all set up for M with a four-hundred-dollar crib* and all. So it looks like he's not planning on this new kid living there? Who knows.

So things are moving along slowly all over, and this has been a boring and perfunctory blog post typed from my phone. To be frank, I'm not even going to bother correcting typos and shit. Sorry.

If I can be bothered to get my shit together, I'm planning to do a post about pregnancy products and my hopes for nursery space for the new kid, if we ever find a new house.

*No, I don't believe this, but also I really, really don't care. Her crib at our house is from Wal-Mart. When we get a crib for the new baby (she'll be in a bassinet in our room at first, plus with moving we didn't want to keep extra furniture on hand), it will likely be the same one. I just feel kind of uncomfortable with the dad trying to impress us with shit like that.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Being pregnant is weird.

I'm almost 34 weeks pregnant now. I'm getting big enough that I'm often uncomfortable and rolling over in bed is now a three-point turn. Or a five-point turn.

I'm short (5'1) so my abdomen is completely full of baby. It's hard to take a full breath, it's hard to sit comfortably, it's impossible to eat a full meal. Getting settled on the couch is an ordeal that often leaves me out of breath. My back and hips are usually at least somewhat sore, so I occasionally do that delightful pregnant lady waddle, particularly right after I get up and start walking. My belly is so big that it pushes any bra I wear right up into my ribcage, guaranteeing discomfort by 10:00 a.m. I was trying on bras at Target the other day (note: all nursing bras are fucking ugly) and caught sight of myself in the mirror and couldn't stop picturing a gorilla, with the way my boobs now rest directly on my giant belly.

It's really, really weird how totally normal and, simultaneously, how completely fucked up it feels to be pregnant. The baby rolls around and kicks my guts and gets the hiccups and I'm so totally used to it, but it also regularly blows my mind that there's a human being living in my abdomen. I've been pregnant, with one short break, for almost a year, so it's really hard to imagine our life with a newborn instead of life with me just pregnant forever.

We've been taking our childbirth classes at the hospital where I'll deliver, and I asked a good friend who's a labor and delivery nurse for a recommendation for a doula. After discussion with her, I'm calling tomorrow to look into switching from my regular obstetrician to a midwife practice nearby. My pregnancy is low-risk, and they offer many of the same services that a doula would, except they're covered by insurance. Really, my main reason for wanting a doula was to have someone there throughout the labor to support Andy in supporting me, but we think we could be okay with the support of a midwife instead. So we'll see how that goes.

We just watched the movie Seven Psycopaths and it was so nuts that it took the length of the whole freaking movie for me to finish writing this. Have you all seen that shit??

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pregnancy thing I never realized

Here's a minor thing that makes a lot more sense to me now: You know how tv likes to show pregnant women always touching or rubbing their bellies? I do that all the time now. I don't even always notice I'm doing it, although I try to avoid it when I'm talking to my boss or whatever. Turns out a baby pushing hard against your guts with her foot is pretty uncomfortable, so pressing back, at least gently, provides some counter-pressure and makes it a little less uncomfortable. How about that shit.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

We have a "for sale" sign in our yard.

First, an update on my last post: Our friends found out that their foster son didn't die from SIDS, as was originally assumed. The poor thing had an undetected hole in his stomach that let formula and stomach acid into his abdomen, and the resulting infection is what led to his death. Obviously this doesn't make the situation any easier, and it's especially shitty that our county assured them that they were in no way at fault but still removed the other twin from their care. Please continue sending positive thoughts their way.

Second, an update on selling our house: We have the "for sale" sign, but the house isn't going to actually be listed until Saturday. It is a lot of work to get a house ready for sale, if you have any interest at all in getting a good price for it. Andy is shampooing carpets while I type this, no joke. We're having an open house next Sunday so we're living in this weird limbo of "where are the tissues?" and "is the blender already packed up?" and "is it worth the effort to fetch the coffeemaker from the garage to make a pot then bring it back out there?" (Answers: top shelf of the linen closet; yes, and at my mom's; nope.)

Third, an update on my pregnancy. I'm seven months pregnant now, which seems kind of nuts. Besides the exhaustion and occasional OH THE FIRE heartburn, I've been feeling fine, so it's been easy to float along like this isn't a huge deal. I just signed us up for childbirth classes through the hospital, and this weekend we're doing a tour of the birthing center therein, and now all of a sudden it's a lot more real that in short order I will be producing an actual human baby. In the last three days, four different people have commented on how much bigger my belly suddenly seems (THANKS GUYS) and I do have to say that things like settling in on the couch or even sitting in the driver's seat comfortably are a big production now. My weight gain is still on the low end of the scale* (get it?) (but not in a concerning way) so I guess I just forgot that all of a sudden I wouldn't be able to do things like tie my high-tops easily or shave my goddamn legs. Oh, and I passed my gestational diabetes test (which was as disgusting as they all say it is) and they found out I'm slightly anemic, so now I'm on an iron supplement that contains a stool softener and life has gotten more interesting re: bathroom time.

*This is not deliberate. I had two donuts and a huge glass of whole milk for breakfast. I think it's mostly attributable to the fact that I don't ever really feel that hungry, since my abdomen isn't large enough to contain my basketball-sized uterus and also a full stomach. I don't snack much, and when I do it's usually fruit or a handful of peanut m&ms.

Fourth, an update on M's case. Her dad got a new job a few weeks ago, which meant moving her visits until late in the afternoon, in a way that was guaranteed to disrupt evenings. The timing also meant he wouldn't be out of work early enough to be in the building early like they had been requiring, so they decided to give him a shot without that. Well, as of today he'd missed three out of six visits at the new time, so they're telling him he has to be there early again. In the short term, that means there won't be visits for a while; I don't know if he'll try to change his schedule or what, but they won't be bringing M from daycare to hang out with the worker without the dad there anymore. I fully expected the dad to be on his best behavior this month because tomorrow marks M's 15 months in care (!!) and I know he has been told this. The worker told me today that they haven't even pulled her files to write the termination paperwork, but they could file any time after tomorrow, legally. In reality it's likely we won't know a thing more about where this is heading until after this new baby arrives.

I sure hope y'all like hearing about foster care and me being knocked up and selling my house, because I do not have the energy for pretty much anything else. These are the makings of an exciting blog.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

If you pray

...would you please direct some prayers towards friends of ours who are foster parents?

They accepted a new foster placement last night: newborn twin boys.

Then this afternoon, one of the twins died of SIDS while he was napping in the same room where the rest of the family was hanging out. The county has placed the surviving twin in another foster home at the request of the bio-family (the county does not suspect that our friends did anything wrong; this is just to simplify the situation).

Obviously our friends are devastated and I have no words to express how incredibly awful this must be. If you believe in a god, please ask him or her to be with our friends. If you don't, maybe just send them some healing thoughts.

Fuck, man.

Monday, April 1, 2013

I haven't slept through the night since October.

The title of this post isn't an exaggeration. I got knocked up again in September, and I started waking up every night to pee in early October. In fact, for a few solid months now I've been waking up two or three times a night. It is some bullshit. Other than that, the pregnancy has been kind of awesome, but it is pretty grating to never feel like I've gotten enough sleep.

Things are progressing smoothly with the house. Our realtor had an interior designer come over on Saturday to help us stage the house. She had a lot of good suggestions along the lines of "Move that lamp here! Put some houseplants here! Take out that bookcase and shift that one over here! Try centering the kitchen table like this!" It was really interesting and I think it would be kind of awesome to hire an interior designer to come do a consult like that after we're settled in a new house. Some of the suggestions definitely make things look better but make the house slightly less comfortable to live in, like how the lamp that used to be right behind the chair I'm sitting in is now across the room. She wants us to get some accent pillows for our bed, which I think is silly because I am NOT into spending money on pillows that will sit on the floor most of the time, especially since they cost like twenty bucks a goddamn pillow. Did you know that? Throw pillows are fucking expensive! And stupid!

I've got a friend who works for a children's book publisher, and I do some occasional freelance work for them. I just signed on to work on a year-long book project and they want me to come to Pennsylvania for training on Wednesday and Thursday this week. So that should be fun and not at all overwhelming to add an overnight business trip midweek while six and a half months pregnant and putting my house on the market.

Hope y'all had a lovely Easter and the like!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Updates on three things

1. We met with our realtor for three hours on Thursday night. She wants us to have our house listed in two weeks. We have so many little projects to do, and most of them are things I can't do while knocked up. Andy and my dad spent the weekend working on two good-sized projects while my mom and I wrangled M and did things like cleaning out the linen closet and coat closet and packing a huge amount of various nonsense. Basically, our house should be as close to empty as it can while still being livable - like a hotel, really. My parents have a huge empty basement, so much of our stuff will be being boxed up and sent there for storage until this place is sold. It is very frustrating to me to be tired out so quickly. I know that if I don't take adequate rests, I'll burn myself out and either get sick or be unable to be productive, but it makes me feel like a dick to be sitting on the couch sipping water while Andy and my parents bust their asses.

2. M's dad has attended two visits out of eight since court. Tuesday marked 14 months since M entered foster care, and in our state they can file to terminate parental rights at 15 months. We'll see if this goes anywhere. M is the funniest, silliest little girl and has turned into a very small scientist with very bad methods: What will happen if I hit the dog in the face with a bamboo coaster? What will happen if I keep trying to close this door, even though I am fully aware that my fingers are preventing it from closing? What happens if I drop this cloth toy into the dog water bowl I'm not supposed to play with? Let us find out what Mama will do if I maintain eye contact with her and do exactly what I was just told not to do. She does all these naughty things with this look of intense concentration and really seems to be trying to find out how things work. It's a good thing that she is absolutely precious, because the kid is exhausting.

3. I'm entering my third trimester this week. The baby inside me is now approximately 15 inches long and just over two pounds. She's big enough (and I'm small enough) that I can frequently see her moving around, and I'm starting to be able to tell what's what - like oh hey, that's her foot that she keeps pretty much permanently lodged in my bottom right-hand rib. I find myself doing that pregnant lady thing where I am frequently touching my belly without noticing it. I'll just look down and find my hand there, even when I'm not thinking about the baby or pregnancy or anything. I find myself thinking thoughts to the new baby, as if I'm talking to her, which is bizarre because as far as I'm aware pregnancy doesn't come with any sort of psychic/ESP abilities. My belly button is getting more shallow by the day and there's pretty much no chance I'll make it through the whole nine months with an innie.

I'm planning to go to bed at 8:30 tonight, which is pretty exciting. Living my best life, and all that. This year's St. Patrick's Day was a little less exciting than some I've lived, but I really like where my life is right now. ...I do miss Smithwick's a lot, though. And lots of other beers. I miss beer.

What tips do you have on selling a house? Any advice on dealing with a very intelligent boundary-testing toddler? Is that "talking to the fetus" thing totally normal, or am I a weirdie?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I still hate titling these.

Hello, hello!

We spent last weekend in Maryland hanging out with my sister and her family. Her new baby is so lovely and snuggly and perfect, and my twenty-month-old goddaughter is spunky and so freaking smart and very awesome indeed. It was a very nice visit, if way too short, except that a cousin we saw while we were there managed to spread his cold to me and M and the new two-week-old baby. Being pregnant suppresses the immune system, so a cold I used to be able to shake in three days now hangs on for two weeks, and M is also cutting some molars, so she and I are not at our very best right now.

Nothing new to report with M's case, other than that her dad has attended two out of six visits since court. Oh, and the worker told us she was chatting with the law guardian, who reported that she loves working with us and wishes she could clone us (which was nice to hear). Our worker gets my sense of humor, so I told her it was nice of her to say that, but we've actually been working on a plan to flee to Canada with M really soon, and in the meantime we're just really good at getting the white people in charge to trust us. The worker yelled, "I knew it!"

We're starting to look at houses again. I don't know if I've mentioned this, but we live in a Cape Cod, and our upstairs is two huge bedrooms and one very small bathroom, and the downstairs has a whole bunch of cramped rooms, including two very small bedrooms and a narrow living room. When we moved in it was just fine, but it's hard to entertain since everyone wants to hang out in our (small, eat-in) kitchen, and if we continue to foster it will be weird because opposite-sex kids can't share a room after age three in our county. So we're starting to look at houses that would suit our needs a little better. We've narrowed our search to two towns not far from us. I have to admit that I have no visual/spatial intelligence, so it's hard for me to look at bad paint or really outdated decor and see past it to the bones. Luckily Andy's good at that, so I'm confident we'll find something that works!

I'm pretending that the idea of doing the minor things we need to do to our house to make it more marketable (almost entirely cosmetic) and then packing and moving while pregnant or with a new baby isn't freaking my shit out. Was it convincing?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Two home visits and a pregnancy update

Happy weekend, dudes! Here's what's been going on with us.

1. On Tuesday we had a home visit with M's worker. She was out of town for court so we talked at length about how things went. She's still very pragmatic about our future with M: the dad, realistically, doesn't have all that much that he needs to do, so she doesn't want us to think that the outcome of court was an indication of how things will go. However, the judge straight-up lectured the dad about how he needs to attend all of his visits, consistently, and then the dad missed BOTH visits this week. Yeah, we know that he still has way more claim to M than we do, but the judge was not happy to hear how inconsistent the dad has been with his visits and then the guy went and missed two in a row.

2. On Thursday we had a visit with M's law guardian, who is a lawyer who is appointed by the county to advocate for the best interests of M. We talked to the law guardian for a while before court and filled her in on the major event that showed a huge lack of parental judgment on that dad's part. Because it was declared unfounded, she hadn't been told about it, but obviously was very glad to have the information. She was due for a visit (she hasn't seen M in about eight months) but of course we chatted about court and all. We feel confident that she'll really be a good advocate for M.

3. The pregnancy is moving along happily: I'm nearing the end of Week 23. I'm still having a really hard time getting enough sleep, which just feels mean. The next coworker who joyfully chirps, "Get used to it! HA HA!" when I say I'm tired is getting punched in the throat. The baby is now moving at predictable times, so I expect to feel her wiggling about half an hour after I eat, especially when I'm sitting at my desk at work, and also sometime between 3:30 and 4:30 in the morning, when she gets super active and kicks me in my fucking ribs or bladder for a while. Other than the exhaustion, I've been feeling fine. I'm definitely getting bigger and my balance is shifting, which makes it weird to do stuff like carry M up the stairs. We're starting to talk about hiring a doula, and I'm planning to schedule our tour of the hospital's birthing center for early next month. I'm having a hard time really feeling prepared for the future, because part of the way I do that is to imagine all the various ways it could be. Realistically, one version of our future doesn't have M living with us, but I honestly cannot picture that without feeling like throwing up, so I mostly just avoid it. This afternoon we're heading out to a fancy yarn store about half an hour away to look for lovely yarn so I can start a blanket for NewBaby, so that should be fun.

What's new with y'all? Any questions about either M's case or the pregnancy?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Big day!

First, the biggest deal: My sister and Brian had their baby! Her name is River and she's perfect. She was born around 4:30 in the morning, when I happened to be lying there awake feeling my own new baby kicking and wiggling. My sister is doing well, which is really awesome because the last time she gave birth it did NOT go smoothly - but this new little girl made a nice gentle entrance into the world. I can't wait to meet her.

And second, court! The summary is that nothing changed. The weird part is that this sort of feels like a victory.

M's mom didn't show up, which wasn't unexpected. They adjourned her part of the case for two weeks, to give her another chance to show up. They surprised me by not adjourning the full case, and having the hearing for the dad's side.

There was a different lawyer there for the dad; I don't know if his usual guy couldn't make it (they changed our court date, so our worker couldn't be there either) or if he now has a different lawyer, but this guy actually said the dad's name correctly in the courtroom, so he's definitely more on the ball than the last one. This lawyer asked for increased visits, and suggested to the judge that they have the county inspect the dad's new home and then come back for another hearing in a few weeks to discuss having visits at said home. The judge pretty much shot that down cold. He (the judge) pointed out that the worker could and would increase visits and change location when that was warranted by the dad's involvement, so no, he didn't see a reason to do that.

The lawyer then asked if we could still have another hearing in a few weeks, so the court could hear about the dad's house being inspected by the county. The judge just stared at him for a minute, and said that even if the house is fine and the dad makes all his visits for a few weeks, they're not just going to move the baby in with him in a month. I loved the judge so much right then, you guys.

The lawyer understood that, but still thought maybe we could "evaluate the situation" again in a few weeks or a month. The judge again just stared at him for a minute, then said, "I'm not going to micromanage this case. I don't do that." And then he set our next hearing for JULY. I assume the judge realized that the lawyer was banking on the dad's habit of trying really hard in the few weeks before court to keep the dad moving forward, and the judge wasn't cool with it.

We'll actually be in court before July, because they'll be filing the paperwork to terminate parental rights in April. Apparently when they finish and file the paperwork on the termination of parental rights, it generates a court date or something, but we don't know when that will be until after the paperwork is filed, and we don't know how far behind the county is on writing those. I'm just hoping they don't schedule it for while I'm in labor.

And now, I have a sincere question for you all: Do you like these blow-by-blow recaps, or would you prefer a shorter summary?

I ask because I know I like to read as much detail as I can about how the court stuff works in other jurisdictions, but if most of you just skim this to get the basic gist, I'd happily cut it way down and give you an overview.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Before-court sort-of-update

So last time I posted I told y'all about the new kid I'm working on, but didn't mention much about M's case. Those of you familiar with the foster care world probably realize that's because there's really very little to report between court dates. We go to court for a permanency hearing on Thursday (what could be more romantic on Valentine's Day than the Family Court waiting room??) but here's what we know as of now.

1. M's dad is moving into/has moved into his new place. He has said since summer that he wanted to be "in and settled" in his new place before filing for custody of M, so this feels like a pretty significant step in my eyes. I know that really, he still has a lot to do before the county would advocate for moving M there, but a lot of it is logistical and so I feel a lot more anxiety about the real possibility of her leaving now that he's achieved this. Of course, the week he moved, he also missed both visits (and tried some sneaky nonsense like showing up seven minutes past the cutoff time for visits, and then telling the worker he'd been there the whole time - dude, you know they have cameras. Why even bother about lying about something that will be disproved in minutes?)

2. Permanency hearings are scheduled every six months and they're basically a chance to review why the kid came into care, why the kid is still in care, what progress has been made, what still needs to be done, and what the goal is for permanency. Two weeks before court, a packet summarizing all of that is mailed to the bio-parents, the foster parents, the attorneys, and the judge. That arrived last Friday, and the first thing on it is a huge paragraph - like half a page - listing all the ways M's mom has failed to make progress on M's case. I got a phone call that afternoon from the worker that she had heard from M's mom right after the packet arrived. M's mom was overwhelmed by seeing this giant list of her failures, is done with the case, and wants to surrender her rights. To me, this is mostly just sad, because I really don't think M's mom sees any possibility of success for herself. Also, even if this actually happens, it doesn't really change anything for our case, since the lack of progress pretty much means she hasn't been an option for custody of M for a long time. We're still listed as the county's "Plan B" so the worker had to get our permission to put in the surrender paperwork that we'd agree to provide a picture and a letter on M's progress every year. I told the worker that she's authorized to agree to visits on our behalf as well, if that's what the mom's attorney counters with. We really do want M's mom to be a part of her life, but we know that has to be the mom's choice.

3. To complicate the possibility of surrender, M's mom told the worker she's not planning to come to court. The only place she can sign the surrender papers is in front of a judge, so she knows if she actually wants to be done with the case she needs to come to court. Also, because she hasn't ever missed court, if she doesn't show up, it's very, very likely that the judge will just adjourn for a week or two, even if the county attorney tells him that she said she wasn't coming. Which means I'll be taking the morning off of work to sit there for hours to be told to come back in a week. The worker says this can happen more than once.

4. Even if the mom shows up and goes through with the surrender, it's unlikely that anything will change with M's placement, at least immediately. The dad's new place is progress, sure, but he still needs to be able to prove that he can do all of the parenting of his two other kids without the help of his mom, whose house he's moving out of. It's possible? likely? that the judge will want him to have more or longer visits, but that's not definite, since he is still only attending about half of the visits. But naturally, all of this is conjecture and there's no way to know what the judge will decide.

5. M is even more awesome as she gets older. Her top two front teeth have broken through and I am a little freaked out about how big she looks on the daily. She's a delightful, funny kid and has finally learned that "more" applies to more than food, so her new favorite thing is to ask for more tickling. We've pretty much always had her nap in the living room (we used to hold her, then about four or five months ago we started putting her down in her playpen), and she usually takes about an hour to finally settle down and go to sleep. On a whim today, Andy put her down to nap in her crib, and she was out in five minutes. This kid amazes me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pregnancy update: halfway there!

Today I'm 20 weeks along, which means I'm halfway through the pregnancy. Which is nuts.

I haven't blogged much in general lately and haven't really discussed much about the pregnancy, so I thought I'd give you a thorough rundown.

- First, the big thing:  it's a girl! We are over the moon about her. Knowing she's a girl makes it totally different to talk about her and to think of her as a person. And Andy has felt her moving three times now, which is fantastic.

And now a more mundane list of what's been going on:
- My skin is always dry, especially on my back. I've been using hippie pregnancy skin toning oil shit (see this post) but am constantly itchy. It's driving me nuts.
- I get up at least once a night to pee. Often it's twice. Sometimes if I wake up for no reason (pregnancy-related insomnia), I can trick myself into going back to sleep by getting up to pee even if that's not why I originally woke up.
- She is getting big enough that my guts are getting squished. My stomach is getting squeezed and I can't fit as much into it, but that doesn't stop me from trying. And then I get heartburn and/or indigestion.
- So far I HATE the maternity pants with the wide elastic waistband. I don't know what it is about my shape that makes the waistband fold in half and then dig in all day. I like the full panel, even though I spend all day hitching them up. Can't wait till it's a little warmer and I can wear dresses without freezing.
 - I have horrible baby brain and forget words for common things (pocket: "um, the place on your pants where you put things"; playpen: "the... box... in the living room... where we put the baby?"). I also forget whole interactions and do things like offer Andy some of my water immediately after I offered him some of my water and he accepted, had some, and handed it back.
- I'm still really tired all the time. I went to bed with my contacts in last week. That hasn't happened since college, and hasn't happened sober probably ever. I even got up twice to pee in the night and didn't notice that I could see stuff. I discovered the error when I couldn't find my glasses on my nightstand the next morning.
- I'm always at least a little thirsty. I'm tired of drinking water all the time. I also have developed a taste for citrus sodas - 7-Up and Squirt in particular.
- I'm in that awkward stage where everyone who knows me well insists that I look pregnant, not just weirdly fat, but I still feel weird and flabby. I'm wearing mostly maternity stuff now, to avoid stretching out my old stuff, and find myself doing that horrible pregnant-celeb "hand always on the belly in public" thing to make it more obvious to strangers that yes, it's a baby, not just holiday leftovers.
- I almost passed out twice during the most recent ultrasound. This isn't unexpected: when you're pregnant and lie on your back, your enlarged uterus presses against the major blood vessels that carry blood to and from the lower body. I had forgotten that, since I'm a side sleeper, but man, it felt awful. I had to roll on my side until I felt better, while the tech tried to continue the ultrasound by awkwardly reaching over and around me.
- I suddenly really like whole milk. I can drink a big glass of milk happily, which hasn't happened since I was a kid. We usually get 1% for us and whole for the baby, but I've usually been drinking hers.
- I haven't really gained any weight. I'm still in the same five-pound window I've been in for about a year, despite eating pretty much whatever strikes me as sounding good (which, granted, is usually not terrible junk food). I asked my doctor about not having gained much, and he said, very cheerfully, "Oh, don't worry, you will!" so I'm not too fussed about it. Also, I really don't like that I actually feel good about not having gained weight, as if it's some sort of accomplishment instead of some weird genetic stroke of luck (my mom only gained 12 pounds with her first pregnancy).
- Andy has been a fucking hero for the last several months. He's attentive and kind and thoughtful, even more than usual. He picks up little things to make me happy whenever he's at the store. He's pretty much totally taken over dinner preparation. The first time I could feel the baby moving from the outside, I happened to be reading in bed, so I texted him to come quick so he could feel it too, and he literally ran from the other side of the house. He comes to bed early when I get tired so I can snuggle him, even when he's not tired. I am so sincerely grateful for him.

So that's what's been taking up a significant portion of my brain lately. Anything you cats want to know that I haven't mentioned?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Internet famous.

Hey, here's a cool thing: I did an interview with the lovely Cassie over at [Witty Title Here] about my experiences as a foster parent.

I tried to keep my answers short, but dang, that was tough! Cassie asked really awesome, thought-provoking questions and I really liked working with her. You should go ahead and bookmark her blog, because it's really brimming with delightful things. Oh, and to my regular readers (all three of you): In the interview, I referred to our foster daughter by her first initial, M, and am going to go ahead and start doing that here. I think that'll help differentiate her from the new kid I'm growing and feels a little more personal than "the baby," which I've been using for over a year.

If you found your way here because of the interview, welcome! Sometimes I cuss a lot. I used to write about really hard-hitting topics like my opinions on custard donuts and why camping is stupid, but now I mostly write about foster parenting and being pregnant, because I don't have the energy to even think about other things. I really like getting comments and I post less often than I wish I did. The end.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Products in my life right now

I am currently loving these things:

I got this sweater in grey from Target, a size up from my usual, and have worn it at least one weekend day every weekend since I got it. I can't find a picture in grey, just this weird periwinkle, because Target's website is truly awful.

I can't find it anywhere online except for at this site, which I can't vouch for in any way, but I got the baby girl this shirt on sale at H&M and love, love, love it. I sent her to a visit wearing it, which made me feel sassy, and she wore it to general acclaim at the party we had this weekend to celebrate having had her for a year. I think all little kids should have a shirt that says this.

I'm borrowing this ridiculous-looking body pillow from my sister-in-law. The pillow is stupid expensive and looks crazy, but all of the internets insist it's the best pregnancy body pillow. I am a pretty intense snuggler at night, and I have been known to chase Andy from my side of the bed all the way to the edge of the mattress on his side in pursuit of a snuggle (whether he wants to snuggle or not), but my belly is already expanding in a way that makes us not fit together the usual way (I'm the big spoon, despite being over a foot shorter, because I hate having someone breathe on my neck). I have been told that this pillow will allow me to prop up the belly as it grows and have something between my knees to help keep my hips aligned.

I've had this super-hippie skin toning oil for a while and have been using it like crazy on my incredible pregnancy-induced dry skin. It contains coconut oil, sweet almond oil, cocoa butter, and Vitamin E. That's all. My skin is still really dry (like by midmorning I'm itching myself on my chair at work like a bear against a tree) and when I put this on it feels like my skin is actually drinking it.

This has been a very exciting post.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Very brief fostering update

The worker told us yesterday that the big thing that might prevent the dad from getting custody of our girl has been declared unfounded. As in, it's been dismissed, basically.

And he's moving into his new three-bedroom place next week. He has been saying since June that he wanted to get into his new place and settled before he filed for custody.

And the worker told me today that the dad doesn't actually have to file for custody to be granted it; the county's goal is "return this child to a biological parent" and his filing would just make his intentions clearer. The judge can still decide the kid's going to her dad even if he doesn't file.

There are things the dad still needs to do to prove that he can adequately parent the kids he does have and maintain a home safe for a very young, very active toddler, but this is a huge change in circumstances. The worker was sure the big thing was solid (and, in fact, it almost certainly did happen and was a huge thing, but the same hospital that misdiagnosed our girl THREE TIMES said that the marks they saw weren't consistent with the report on how they got there). Aside from this and his constant missing of and lateness to visits and doctor's appointments and stuff, there's nothing, really, to indicate he can't provide a minimal level of care. We are now looking at the very real possibility that the girl we've had for a year on Saturday will be leaving us.


Nothing is for sure, and she's  not leaving until the judge says she is, and all that, but you bet I cried when I was rocking her before bed last night. This is my daughter and my very heart is facing losing a big part of itself.