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two turtle doves

Topic: Loved Ones

Now that Monkey is here, I find that I really miss being near my family at the holidays. Other times too, but it is more keenly felt this time of year. We have MiL nearby, but if we lived near my family, we’d have my parents, my brother/SiL/his two kids, and my aunts/uncles/cousins/second cousins. My dad comes from a big family (seven kids!), and I remember how much fun it was when we’d all get together for a holiday. My cousins and I always had so much fun. I find myself wanting that for Monkey, too.

My cousins and me, drawn by my youngest aunt in 1980 ❤

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mil blues

I posted this elsewhere on the Internet today, but thought I’d put it here as well to get additional perspectives. Sorry for the length and depressing subject matter.

My FiL died in January of 08 after a year and a half battle with leukemia. It was horrible and awful and my MiL was understandably deeply affected by the illness and loss. DW and I did all we could to help during this time. DW had a somewhat rocky relationship with both parents and shortly before FiL was diagnosed, she was planning to start scaling back her interactions with them. Not a CO or anything like that, but just not as involved. Then she was pulled in like WHOA.

In March of 08, we decided to start trying for a baby. Our son was born in 12/09. Though of course this did not factor into our decision to have a child, we thought it might help MiL deal with her grief and give her something new and wonderful to focus on. She was thrilled about the coming grandbaby.

In the years since FiL’s death, MiL has become more and more self-involved, selfish, and demanding/needy. In my opinion, she is showing hypochondriac symptoms. She has had an ailment and surgery pretty much every few months for the last couple of years for mystery type ailments like sleep apnea, back pain. Not that these can’t be real problems, but in her case, it’s like she needs to be the center of attention and has constant health issues. She expects DW to be on-call for her during these crises despite the fact that we live 45 minutes away, DW is a stay-at-home mom, I work full-time, and we have a 22 month old. Selfishly, I am seriously annoyed that not only have we had zero support from her in the baby department, but she is super demanding. Example: DW is driving 45 minutes each way in the morning to take MiL to a doctor’s appointment that is 15 minutes from her home. She can’t drive due to her most recent surgery, but seriously, she can’t take a cab or find a friend to shuttle her to her appointment? Instead DW has to take half a day, I have to lose half a day of work, etc., etc. She gets all bent out of shape when DW resists at all.

Also, she doesn’t work, has very little money and we know when the time comes that her money runs out, it’ll be on us to support her. DW says she will not allow her to live with us and I hope she stays true to that as I’d hate it and I know it would make DW miserable, meaning our lives would be somewhat miserable. I’m so upset that there is all this crap to deal with when I just want to be focusing on my own family. I’m worried MiL is going to be a downer and drain us of money, time, etc. for the rest of her life.

DW is an only child so there is no one else to call on for help. MiL also lost her brother to a heart attack about 2 years ago. It’s been a horrible few years for her, no doubt, and I want to help out where we can. Trouble is she just needs/expects way too much – it’s more than we can give.

How would you handle this situation?

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newborn memories – edited to add pic

For today’s post, I wanted to capture some memories from my first few weeks of being a mom. I didn’t blog much in those early days as I was so overwhemed with learning the ropes (and breastfeeding) but it’s a shame as so much was happening – things I want to remember. Here are some snippets for your pleasure. I’d love to read yours, too, if you’re so inclined 🙂

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Shortly after I woke up in recovery after my c-section, DW arrived with the baby and the nurse asked if I planned to breastfeed. I told her I was and she handed him to me and said, “Okay, here you go.” I just looked at her like WTH do I do now? I did not remember a single thing I had learned in the class and was a total deer in the headlights.

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DW finally went home to shower and catch a short nap. Shortly after she left, the hospital photographer came by to take newborn pics! I knew DW would want to be there so I asked if they could hold off and was told they could for maybe an hour. I called DW and she rushed back to be there. My mom thought I was nuts to hold off for DW, but I knew she’d want to be part of it and guess what? SHE DID! I even brought it up recently and she said of course she wanted to be there.

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When it was time to leave the hospital, it took us FOREVER to get the baby strapped into his carseat. He was just so tiny and floppy and we had never put a newborn into a carseat before. A nurse was hovering and not really helping at all, which just made matters worse. In hindsight, I wish someone had told us to just bring the carseat into the hospital room and do it there. It would have been much less stressful and we’d have had less of an audience.

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The day we got home from the hospital, DW showed me an adorable vintage-style Christmas card that a friend sent to Monkey for his first Christmas. I got teary and went into our bedroom. I laid in the bed and just started crying. The sweetness of the card, the realization that I had a baby and this was his first Christmas, the pain of my incision, the newness of motherhood – it was so overwhelming. DW came in to check on me and saw that I was crying. I told her I was fine and just needed a little time on my own. She left, I had my cry, took a quick nap, and felt much better.

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One day I was nursing the baby in our bedroom for the millionth time that day and I was STARVING. My mom ran out to get us sandwiches and I told DW that when they got there, to bring me one STAT. We have a picture of me nursing the baby in my glider using the My Brest Friend while eating a sandwich. I think my iPhone is stashed in the MBF pocket. Good times 🙂 I’ll have to track that photo down and post it – you’ll get a good laugh! Edited to add hilarious photo:

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My mom stayed with us for three weeks post-birth (my dad was here with her for the first week). I told her specifically when I was pumping in the bedroom not to come in. I was very self-conscious and didn’t want to share the experience. Well, she came busting in one day as I was pumping and I was very exasperated and told her to leave. She left and made a comment to DW about me “freaking out.” Whatevs, Mom, whatevs.

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When I was pumping to get my supply up during that first week or two, my mom would clean all of my pump parts and bottles and have them waiting for me before the next pumping session, including middle of the night ones.

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The first time we went to the lactation consultant (who was AWESOME), tiny Monkey freaked out like crazy. I tried and tried to get him to calm down but had no luck. The second time we visited the LC, I cried when she asked what DW could do to help me be successful with breastfeeding. Poor woman earned her money with us 🙂 To her credit, she said she knew it was a successful session if the mom shed tears.

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When Monkey was a newborn, he would choke in the night (the nurses said that happens frequently with c-section babies – they get amniotic fluid in their lungs or some such thing). It was horrific and scary. I remember being asleep in the hospital with DW asleep in the next bed and Monkey between us. He would start to choke but I couldn’t get to him because of my incision. DW was deeply asleep so I yelled, “DW! DW!” Poor woman would wake with a start and rush for the baby. That terrible choking went on for a week or two and I was afraid every night when we put him down that it would be his last. What an awful feeling that was. The doctors and nurses were all very nonchalant about it, which was also infuriating.

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My mom, DW, and I would take turns sitting with Monkey in the night when he would wake. We had a Boppy set up in the corner of the couch and one of us would sit with him and watch television. One night I noticed my mom seemed really tired, so I told her I’d watch if she wanted to go to sleep. She refused (she loves her Granny time) and I said, “Okay, but do not fall asleep. He can’t sleep in the Boppy without supervision.” She was like, “Mxxx, I will not go to sleep.” When I came out later to check on them, guess who was asleep? It’s kind of funny now, but I was so angry at the time.

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I’m sure there are more things I’m forgetting, but this gives a pretty good idea of how insane life is with a newborn I think.

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vacation

We survived traveling across the country with a toddler! Not only that, we had a great time. Cast of characters included Granny and Papa (my parents), Aunt Lynda (my dad’s sister), my brother, SiL, niece (6), nephew (4), and 2nd cousin (13 – Lynda is her Granny). Bullets:

  • We left last Sunday. There was a 30 minute drive to LAX (we got a carseat-equipped Town car), a 2 hour flight from LAX-Detroit, a 1 hour layover, a 4 hour flight from Detroit-Charleston, SC, and a 45 minute drive from Charleston-Edisto. Monkey did very very well. He slept for almost an hour on the first flight and then was entertained by the iPad (Yo Gabba Gabba eps and apps), the big bag of cheap toys, and many snacks the rest of the time. There were some tough moments, but no major meltdowns or anything. Definitely doable.
  • Monday was the 4th. My dad decorated a wagon to pull the kids (Monkey and my niece and nephew) in the local children’s parade. Monkey was a bit clingy and wouldn’t get in the wagon. We walked around in the crazy humid heat (OMG!) and then went back to the house and down to the beach. Monkey LOVED the beach. He wanted to run right into the waves. We took him in the water for a bit with us and he loved it. He played and later sat in my lap, nursed (sand and milk – yum!), and fell asleep for his afternoon nap under the umbrella. Mamas had a nice time chatting with the relatives and drinking a Bud Light Lime.
  • Tuesday was another beach day. My aunt and uncle came for a couple of nights. We spend the day playing on the beach and Monkey took a marathon beach nap – 2 hours! That night we took a walk on the beach with flashlights and watched Pretty Little Liars with my little cousin.
  • Wednesday we tried to go over to Botany Bay, but it was high tide so we didn’t get down to the shore. Monkey had a freak out as he wanted out of the car, so we drove through and cut it short. We definitely want to go back there next year and really explore. Ended up on the beach for the afternoon/early evening. The adults played Apples to Apples when the kids went to bed.
  • Thursday we originally planned to go to Savannah for a day trip, but after Monkey’s meltdown the day before I thought it wasn’t the best idea. Instead, we left Monkey with Granny and Papa and the rest of us went to the Edisto Serpenterium. Creepy! We checked out snakes, lizards, and gators. Then Mamas and my Aunt and little cousin went out for lunch. Afterward it was back to the beach for more sand and surf.
  • Friday we came home. We had the 45 minute drive from Edisto-Charleston (Monkey had a short nap during this) and ate lunch in the airport. Then it was a 1.5 hour flight from Charleston-Atlanta (with an additional 40 minutes sitting on the runway – argh), hardly any layover due to the delay in Charleston, a 4 hour flight from Atlanta-LAX (Monkey slept for over 2 hours!), and a 45 minute drive from LAX-home. Monkey did great! He lost it on the plane about 15 minutes out of LA – who could blame him? That was the only bad part and since it was almost over, it wasn’t so terrible.
To sum up, we had a blast. Monkey was a bit over-tired and over-stimulated, but overall he had a great time. He was big with the biting (OUCH) and did throw a few fits, which is out of character for him. I am now talking with DW about possibly moving South at some point. Are we insane for thinking about that those of you who live down there? Major plus: Tons of family support, way better cost of living. Major downside: No recognition of us as a family, loss of our gay family network out here. We’ll see…
Protected picture post to come!

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june non-challenge: memories & activities

Day 22 – What is your most beloved childhood memory? What memories are you trying to create (or will you try to create) for your child(ren)?

It’s hard for me to zero in on a single one. I had a pretty happy fun childhood. Some standouts include Christmas (of course!), camping trips in the North Carolina mountains with extended family and friends, getting together with my cousins for some mayhem (Thanksgiving comes to mind), Disneyworld trips. That’s a lot, huh? We didn’t have very many family traditions (at least not compared to DW’s family), but we did have a lot of fun!

I want holidays to be super special for him, with lots of traditions (mostly from DW). I can’t wait for trips to Disneyland, Hearst Castle, Europe, etc., etc. I want him to have a taste for travel and adventure.

Day 23 – What are your favorite activities to do with your kid(s)?

Gymboree free play (the classes, not so much), swimming, and reading. We are going to Legoland with friends in a few weeks! Can’t wait!

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june non-challenge: PDA & kindness

Day 19 – How do you (and your partner if applicable) feel about PDA?

We are not real PDA kind of people. The only exception is when we see bands – I have a couple of beers and get pretty cuddly 🙂 I have always associated live music with cuddles. Don’t know why.

Day 20 – What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? Did you repay the kindness?

One that immediately comes to mind is DW’s family letting me move into their house for a month when my ex went nutty and I was looking for a new place. I think I have repaid the kindness in many many (MANY!) ways since with my MiL (FiL passed away in Jan 08).

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