Thursday, February 28, 2013

Next steps

It dawned on me last night as I was preparing the usual 5 oz bottle for the sitter that I am still feeding B as if he's six months old, and he's turning one in three weeks. A whole new world of food will open up for him when he turns one. And as per usual, I am fearing the change.

Somewhere (babycenter maybe?) I was reading about incorporating cow's milk at one year of age. And the amount you're expected to feed these kids is nuts - something like three full bottles a day. How is he even going to get through two bottles...? He would have to have a bottle on his face all day long! I have a weird association with milk because I was always completely grossed out by it and hated being made to drink it as a kid - one of my mother's more stellar moments was standing up for me when the school I went to for 1st grade absolutely insisted I drink milk every day. With that said I'm not opposed to feeding B milk - it just seems like SO much; how can I even keep up...? Still at some point in the next year I'll want to wean, and this may be the key.

Then there's all the other foods he'll be allowed - even the most conservative opinions seem to still allow for real adult food by the one year mark. So the squeezy bag breakfasts may be on their way out! B has learned how to feed himself the little cheerio-type pouf things; once it dawned on me I needed to let him try by himself rather than placing them in his mouth, he figured it out very quickly. So now instead of just eating one or two he chomps them down handfuls at a time. This kid is ready to eat. Mom is not ready for him to eat. But mom is going to have to get over that.

It occurred to me that once he makes this transition to adult food - and especially once the boobie is over - that's it. No more changes; he'll be on adult food forever. It's much like my desire for him to be big enough for international travel; once he is, he is for life. Once he's big enough to no longer need a car seat or booster, that's it. The changes come so quickly, and then they're permanent. There's no going back. Which makes me both happy and sad.

So for now I need to spend the next few weeks preparing to change up our food routine. I will start using his high chair finally; I will get larger bottles; I will start feeding him solids more than once a day. It's going to be a lot more work. Not looking forward to that aspect of it. I'm especially afraid of him hating my cooking. It's not for everyone. If he just detested everything I make it would really break my heart. But I need to be prepared for that to happen.

So, on to the next steps!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Giving up

I spent the entire morning on the phone with Kaiser, the Department of Managed Care, and even ehealthinsurance who originally sold me my health care policy, in an attempt to unravel the impossibly tangled and complicated web that is my labor & delivery bill, which I believe is incorrect. And, you know what? There may be no fixing this. I may just have to give up and recognize that yes, I was probably overcharged by several thousand dollars, and there may be nothing I can do about it.

The Department of Managed Care has closed my case. All they did was send it twice to Kaiser to review, and they of course defended their position, and so the DMC has washed their hands of it. Huh? I called them up and said, so, you just take Kaiser's word for it that I was billed correctly and that's it? It made no sense. I had a long conversation with a woman who seemed somewhat sympathetic (especially to this issue of B incurring all his own charges from the minute he was born, which everyone tells me is not correct); it turns out they may have made a mistake in closing my case, so she said when I get the letter that confirms it's closed to call them up and ask to speak to a specific person. But even then there's not much I can do but take Kaiser to arbitration (because of course I signed away my right to sue when I took on this policy).

Then there's the issue of that $600 bill I got handed back in January for birth charges that at the time they said they covered, but they have now a year later decided they're not covering. Of course Kaiser has denied my complaint with the standard "read your policy, you owe us" letter. What do I do about that? I finally broke down and paid it today because I don't want my credit ruined. But it's already two weeks late so honestly my credit may be dinged anyway.

I just wish there were somewhere to go, someone to help, someone to sit and talk over all of this with who can just HELP ME. But there isn't. I've asked around and nobody has a clue how to find a lawyer who handles things like this - not even lawyer friends of mine. And honestly - I'm not even sure I'm right about any of this. It sounds right, but the language in my policy is so vague; they say "some" maternity charges are covered but some aren't; they say B is "covered" for the first 30 days, but it doesn't say he's "covered under your policy" as in subject to my deductible. I just don't understand how I can have a $1500 deductible and a $3500 out of pocket maximum per year, and yet last year I was charged between $6000 and $7000 for the birth. How can this be? Can someone explain this to me? Does this mean if I ever have an accident or major illness I can just be charged hundreds of thousands of dollars because the care isn't subject to my deductible? If that's the case why bother having insurance?

Anyway all of this stuff makes me so crazy and angry and frustrated that I can hardly stand it. And at a certain point I had to ask myself, what's the point of all this? Why not just drop it and have my sanity back? It's all paid for. I spent this whole day with my stomach in knots and full of rage. Maybe sometimes you just have to walk away.

It reminds me of when I was sued that time - the same frustration, the same rage, the same feeling of knowing I was right. But unfortunately I couldn't walk away from that since I was the one being sued, not doing the suing. And that was two years of torture that I'll never get back. But this - I can just walk away. There won't be another birth so I'll never, ever have to deal with this situation ever again.

One thing I will tell people in the future about Kaiser, though, is that your insurance doesn't really cover anything. So just act as if you have no out of pocket maximum because obviously you can be charged anything, and even years later have bills pop up for items that were covered at the time but now aren't. Just enjoy the free vaccinations. Oh yeah, and I'm still waiting for the bill from our whole ER adventure, and subsequent mole removal. I can't even imagine how many thousands that's going to cost me. God I hate them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Who needs professionals?

I just love that with today's technology you can snap photos with your cell phone and then apply a filter that makes it look like you did a professional photo shoot (at least, in my opinion). I snapped these in the playroom yesterday and they are so far my favorite mommy & me pics:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

11 months

Oh, and also -

Disneyfail trip to Disneyland, my first since probably 1998, lasted all of fifteen minutes.

I had gone as part of a group of Babywearers who were also participating in Dapper Day, an informal group that dress snazzy at various locations. I heard about this from a FB invite, and seeing that some friends of mine were going, I thought it would be a chance to hang with them, dress up, get some great pictures, and experience Disneyland with kids for the first time.

The only problem is...nobody showed up. I hustled my butt down there to be at the meeting spot at 11 AM as requested on the invite - and believe you me, getting yourself and a baby dressed up, hair and makeup done for me, plus elaborate packing so we both had jackets/food/change of shoes etc available, and getting us down to Orange County and through the whole Disney parking and tram ride thing is no easy feat (and why the F does Disneyland make you completely dismantle your stroller to get on the tram to get to the park? Can you imagine if I'd brought my giant vintage pram???). But nobody was there. I texted the organizer and she said she'd be there at 1, "after practice". Um...what? Then why did you arrange a meeting time and place for 11AM? I could have used an extra couple of hours of sleep.

So anyway once it was clear nobody was coming, I decided to stroll around. But it was very unpleasant. There was a stiff cold wind, so I was immediately frozen solid, and had to keep one hand on my head at all times to keep the 1940's hat from blowing off my head. It was of course packed, so maneuvering around was very difficult, and I hate crowds. Then I realized I wouldn't be able to do much of anything - with no one to watch the stroller and giant bag of crap I'd brought, I wouldn't even be able to take B on the most basic rides. And of course there were lines for everything. I thought about getting something to eat, but there were lines around the block for all the restaurants. Then I thought, how much do I want to torture myself to make it feel like I got my $100 worth? I asked myself what I really, truly wanted to do. And I realized I wanted to go home and be warm and comfortable. So I left.

I'm actually glad this happened today, because it reminded me of something I forgot, which is I kind of hate Disneyland. I know it'll be different when B is old enough to enjoy it. But I doubt I'll make it part of my regular rotation like many of my friends do. Special occasions, sure. But no annual passes for us. I think I'll save that money to replace the rotten boards of my porch. I'm pretty sure I'll get a lot more enjoyment out of that porch than I ever will Disneyland.

I snapped these pics on the tram heading home. So, at least I got a couple of pics of us looking dapper.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Last night

Last night I had one of those heart-stopping "god I wish I wasn't single" moments. I was woken up at 3 AM with a loud bang, followed by various stealthy, sliding noises. Lying on my back it was hard to tell where the noises were coming from; but I could have sworn it was coming from right outside my bedroom window and upstairs in the playroom. I flashed back to earlier yesterday when I took a rare trip to my back yard (I don't spend much time out there in the winter) to fill the chickens' water container and noticed the workers had left a tall ladder leaning up against the back of the house, just in the right spot for anyone who really wanted to to climb into the playroom windows, the only windows as yet without bars on. So when I heard a bunch of bumping and sliding all I could think was someone had figured this out and was breaking in to the upstairs.

I immediately went into the hall and switched on the hallway light which would signal to anyone upstairs that I was aware of their presence. No scurrying sounds followed; but I could still hear scraping sounds from outside. So I switched on the exterior lights, and stuck my head out of my bedroom window, only to see a raccoon having a meal out of my tipped- over garbage can. Good times.

It took forever to go back to sleep with adrenaline pumping through my veins. I've been broken into twice in my life, but both during the day when I was out, and not in this house, and most recently nineteen years ago. I like to think this place is a bit of a fortress, between the bars on the windows, burglar alarm that I always use, and general inaccessibility. But, I had to break into this place once when my keys were stolen, and it was shockingly easy, and my stupid alarm didn't even go off (probably because I ducked under where I know the motion sensor is). The fact is if anyone really wanted to, they could get in here. We all just hope we'll make our place unappealing enough that any common crook will pass us over for an easier target. And twelve years unmolested in this house says so far, so good.

Still it never sits well with me that people know I'm a woman living alone here. I don't know if having a baby makes me more or less of a target. But I've had these heart-stopping "someone's breaking in moments" all my life, and they suck. Thankfully they've never amounted to more than a raccoon, a rat, or my imagination. So you want to be a single parent, huh?

Here are some pics of me & B in vintage garb today, or as I like to call it, my natural habitat:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Better days

I didn't blog yesterday because I was in an exceptionally foul mood and had no perspective. But today's a new day, and I feel (somewhat) prepared to take it on.

The day started with my main trigger - being around toddlers, and seeing what horrible little a-holes they can be. And it always begs the question - is this parenting, or just normal kid behavior? A new mom with a three-year-old girl joined our group and the girl was just awful - pouting and screaming her head off the whole time. The poor mother was so embarrassed. I wondered is this just a bad day? A phase? Will she grow up to be a delightful little girl? Who knows? Then in a large play area there were some boys that were just little terrors, hitting other kids and messing up things other kids had created, etc etc. I know I've been over this topic a million times, but is my sweet, jolly little Bumpus going to morph into that in two years? Because I really wonder if I can handle it. The day to day looks awful enough but it would also literally break my heart. I mean those kids weren't just rambunctious - they were evil!

So already in a bit of a state I returned home to find that after complaining to Kaiser about my hospital bill, and being denied because they claimed B was not a member when he was born (?), then taking my claim to the state HMO management board, who then turned it back over to Kaiser, this time denied it again claiming B had his own policy when born with his own deductible which I was correctly charged for. I called the HMO management agency asking what the heck we do now, as we've just spent four months in a complete waste of time of an endless loop. They said I can appeal AGAIN. I asked are they just going to turn it over to Kaiser to deny again? They didn't really have an answer for that. I put this situation on Facebook and everyone is telling me to get a lawyer. And where exactly do I find a lawyer who handles this sort of thing? Anything I pay a lawyer would doubtless be more than I would ever recover. But I would do it if only to make a point. The worst thing is I can't even leave Kaiser - I consulted the people who got me this policy and they said this is the best plan for me in CA, by literally hundreds of dollars a month. So I'm trapped with these charlatans. Oh, and none of this even addresses that extra $600 bill I got a few weeks ago that I haven't even paid. That's a whole separate situation that I'm not even sure is being reviewed or not.

In addition to that clusterfuck I am having a dispute with a seller on Etsy as well - I ordered a dress from a Chinese seller back in September for $72 and never got it. We've been back and forth for months, the tracking number they sent me lead to some US Air Force base and the post office said it'd be almost impossible to retrieve my package from there; then the seller said they'd make me a new one but wouldn't cough up the tracking number; then they said they'd refund me. In filing a complaint with both Etsy and PayPal they both said I'm pretty much out of luck. And just for the record I've ordered plenty of things from Asia and never had a problem, and this was a highly rated long-standing store with tons of excellent reviews. So, what the hell? Yesterday I threatened them with reporting them and giving negative reviews, but still nothing. I'm beyond frustrated that nobody will do anything about this (even if I don't get my money back, you'd think Etsy would suspend them or something!). It is very similar to the Kaiser situation where I feel totally screwed and taken advantage of but at the moment I feel utterly helpless to right the situation. It makes my blood boil.

So, yesterday not a good day. Today I'm determined to not let this stuff get to me and go on and have a good day. I've got my movie club tonight for some much needed mommy time, and I'm going to deliver a big care package to former Bed Rest Friend with some of the preemie clothes I was given and some of my homemade laundry detergent. So those things should make me feel better about today. Oh, and the fact that B is still an awesome, cute baby. That fact doesn't hurt, either.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Trying new things

Shortly after a texting conversation with Bed Rest Friend while watching the season finale of Downton Abbey, she had her baby. He's about six weeks premature but seems to be doing well. He pretty much popped out. Between her and my Mom Guru friend and her 55 minute labor, I have to admit I'm a little jealous they had such fast, (relatively) painless labors, after the three days of pure hell I went through. I know it's fucked up to be jealous of someone that spent months on bed rest, had a cerclage, etc. It's fucked up, right? Meh. I guess old habits die hard.

Yesterday I got a wild hair up my ass to get a cutting garden going. I have some beautiful white calla lillies that pop up this time of year that someone thoughtfully planted in the back corner of my yard - I enjoy them in vases for months and they require no care at all, not even watering. So I went out and bought a bunch of bulbs. I have never in my life planted bulbs, but it looks pretty easy. I also made a Thai curry last night for the first time ever, and despite all the recipe fails I've had over the last few weeks (of all the new recipes I've tried since Jan 1st I wouldn't repeat a single one of them), this one I'd actually make again; it was excellent. So I guess the moral of the story is sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone has its rewards.

Speaking of trying new things, I dug deep into my pockets and purchased a day ticket to Disneyland so B and I can attend "Dapper Day" there next Sunday. It's a special day where people dress up fancy (usually with a vintage flair) and go to local venues. There is a sub group of babywearers going that I'll join up with. One thing I don't get, though, is how to wear a giant covering baby carrier with a cute vintage outfit! Anyway it'll be B's first Disneyland trip which is pretty momentous. Since most of my friends take their kids on practically a weekly basis, annual passes are for sure in our future. It'll be a yearly investment in our fun and socialization.

Today I'm hosting the first mommy & me meetup at my yoga place. I hope people enjoy it! I also have finally nailed down my first SMC meeting for the women who have contacted me through the SMC website - it'll be at my house on March 17. It's mostly thinkers which is an interesting group to start with - there are so many thoughts at that time, so many philosophical arguments. I so wish I had had a positive role model when I was considering this path. Hopefully I can be that for people. That yes, you can be a single mother by choice and still have an orderly house and put on mascara every day. It is possible.

Monday, February 18, 2013

On the mend

Maybe it's the lovely hike I went out and did today or the plate of chocolate dipped strawberries I made myself when I got home, but I'm feeling better about things. I missed my one chance to have a fun night out dancing this month Saturday night - but apparently the turnout was thin because everyone else is sick, too. I'm not going to be able to record my album with the band at all this weekend; despite carefully planning this album unlike our last three so that I could actually sing with the band backing me, apparently once again we'll have to overdub me. Blah. Oh well, what can you do?

I think I'm so chipper because a) I have money in the bank and b) I have high hopes for this year's event. I spoke to my flier designer this year who is also a dance instructor who just got back from Germany and said he met a lot of people there who are planning on coming - including a bunch of Russians. I've also been talking to a Lithuanian who wants to DJ and may set up an after hours band for me. Apparently he wanted to hit me up for work but was intimidated because my event is "the granddaddy of all dance events". So, that made me feel pretty good. I may be getting ahead of myself but I do feel things might be turning around for me in the work department; and not that they even really needed turning around.

Feeling confident about my financial future makes me want to do things like plant a cutting garden (will check out the nursery who did my front yard, tomorrow, maybe plant some bulbs), trade in my car for a better model (won't do but it sure is tempting), and shop at Anthropologie and not off the sale rack (also won't do since I just bought two breastfeeding-friendly dresses at Target). I also have signed up to take B on his first Disneyland outing next Sunday as part of something called "Dapper Days", in which people get dressed up fancy and/or vintage and attend various iconic SoCal locations. I've been dying to do a baby-friendly daytime vintage event with B so I'm super excited about it (even if the day turns out to be kind of stressful which it might).

In other news, Bed Rest Friend is holding steady in the hospital, and Mom Guru welcomed baby #3 at home in a record 55 minutes with a birthing tub! Amazing. I haven't spoken to her yet but I hope she finally got the peaceful home birth she always dreamed of.

Bumpus is just barely starting to wave (I really should have been practicing this ages ago but it honestly didn't cross my mind) and is starting to interact a lot more; last night we had a prolonged game of "put the pacifier in mommy's mouth", and it was a riot watching his serious little face and listening to his excited breathing as he figured out that mommy can use the pacifier, too. He is inches away from tipping over his jumper, tipping over the GoPod, and crawling over the top of his ancient Port-A-Crib. Last night I had to grab his diaper by the crotch before he took a header off the end of the bed. Lord help me.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Nothing comes easy

Yesterday I went to visit Bed Rest Friend (formerly My Former Nemesis). She is now 33 weeks and was looking forward to being released from bed rest in three weeks. I say "was". About five minutes into our visit...her water broke. At first she thought she peed herself, and I said, "are you sure that's pee?" She then made a series of phonecalls, her hands shaking. I felt so bad for her. I remember so well those last weeks of my pregnancy, just praying every day the baby wouldn't come early, every week checking off the fewer complications he'd have if he were born that week as opposed to the week before.

So I clipped Bumpus into his car seat and rushed her to the hospital, which unfortunately was all the way on the other side of town, at rush hour on a Friday. We've been in touch via text since. She had a rough night, full of tubes and magnesium sulfate and drugs to stop the contractions. I'm not sure what happens now - I would imagine she'll have the baby soon, being as her water broke and she's in danger of infection. The poor girl! Her body just has not taken to this whole process at all - from having to do IVF to conceive, to incompetent cervix, to now pre-term labor. What an ordeal. But at the end of the day (maybe the end of today!) she will have a healthy baby, thanks to the miracle of modern science.

In other news, I am officially sick. I feel like I have a bowling ball for a head and haven't been able to breathe through my nose for 24 hours. And guess what? I'm supposed to record an album today. And then go dancing tonight (I know, I haven't entirely given up the dream of dancing). Fortunately we have a second day of recording on Monday, because I doubt I can hang today. I made a reservation at the Baby Kennel for dancing tonight which I will cancel unless I suddenly rally. I hate that I have to pass on everything I have to do today - and it's a gorgeous 80+ degree day today, too, which I will probably miss. And as many of you know, caring for a rambunctious baby when you're sick and he's sick and you're both sleep deprived, sucks. Still, nothing compared to what my friend is going through right now, however. Whew.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My funny valentine

So, single mothers of boys, don't take this the wrong way when I'm slightly creeped out when on this day you mention having a "date" with your son, or that he's your special little Valentine, or that you spent the day doing Valentine's- type stuff together. I know it's just cute and fun and as usual I'm the weirdo. It's not you, it's me.

But...I refuse to get in the spirit of today. Valentine's Day is for lovers, period. And as I am not having an adult sexual relationship at the moment, this day is as meaningless to me as your birthday. Nice for you, but not relevant to me. So I appear to be the only one on Facebook not posting cute cards and pictures of themselves and their kids doing crafts. I know some day, especially when B is in school, this will be different. I know like all parents today I'll be stuck making pink cupcakes and hand made Valentines for every teacher, student, janitor and administrator in the school lest my fellow parents accuse me of being a self-centered jerkoff. But until that day I say this "holiday" simply does not apply to me, a single woman. So there.

It's funny how I still feel inadequate on Valentine's Day even though I never, ever had a good one - like a fellow blogger I think I was actually in a relationship maybe once or twice on the actual day; and the one I remember was in my early twenties when I had to cajole my British boyfriend into taking me out to a crappy overpriced dinner, and he sat there the whole night complaining ("whinging" he'd call it) about how expensive and lousy it was and how much of a scam Valentine's Day is, just set up by Hallmark to make money on card sales, etc. And all of this was at least partially true. But is that the guy you're going to marry? Nope.

Personally my favorite Valentine's Day ritual is to watch Picnic At Hanging Rock, a bizarre 70s Australian movie about an actual disappearance of turn-of-the-century school girls on a St Valentine's Day picnic. It's a Peter Weir film so it's slow and moody and odd - and has spawned many catch phrases in our family; the main one being "she's quite intact", spoken by the examining doctor after one of the missing girls is recovered. Speaking of which - it's possible to get your virginity back even after having a baby, right? Because I think I've got something like that going on over here.

On that note, Happy Valentine's, everyone!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

500 posts!

I rarely notice how many posts I've written, but I can't ignore 500! Wow! I know I've been a real posting machine lately; I think it's become habit, like journaling, just something I have to do every day whether I have anything of import to say or not. Thanks for reading along!

It's funny how much talk of additional babies has been going on recently. It's all over my March 2012 babies board - probably because so many of the gals on there are pregnant again. Then as noted it's being discussed on my SMC Facebook group. Then last night I got home and found someone had commented on my one and only old ultrasound picture on Facebook, which put it back in the newsfeed, which immediately prompted a bunch of people to excitedly comment that I was pregnant again (I guess some people don't realize to have a detailed 4D ultrasound pic like that you have to be pretty far along, and showing). Then last night I had dinner with a couple where the wife was pregnant with number two, and when I said my 40 years was the main factor in not trying for another, she said, "well, I'm 41!" So much for that argument!

I still know one child only is the right decision for B & me. I really have no desire to have two little kids running around here. And the thought of pregnancy nausea, third trimester misery, and (gulp) labor fills me with loathing. Still. It's just so damned final, like a death. No more children. No little red headed buddy for Bumpus. I am still just young enough that I *could* have a healthy baby, just maybe. In a couple of years this will not be the case. But now, at 40? It's possible. And yet I'm closing that door. Why is this so hard for me? Why can't I just make that choice and never look back? I swear this second baby thing is a harder choice than the first baby thing. When I saw all that chatter on FB about me having another baby it made me start to think something was in the air to make me change my mind. But then I got out of my old magical thinking habits and reminded myself all the commenters were younger, married women who think it would be swell if I had another cute little baby. They don't have to lie on the bathroom floor for three months sick, they don't have to have pre-eclampsia and be bullied for weeks into inducing early and then spend years fighting the hospital bills, they don't have to try to nurse a cranky newborn while their neglected toddler tears the house apart. See? Not looking so cute now, does it?

Yet every life choice means closing a door on another choice. For example, I can't live in NY and LA at the same time. I'll never be a young glowy bride. I have a house with an amazing view and privacy from the street - but I also have to haul all my crap up three flights of stairs to get that privacy. Choices, choices!

Yet just like people who choose to be childless, I will spend my entire life defending my decision to have just one child. "How come you never had another? Didn't you want Bobby to have a sibling?" I don't know how to politely say I didn't want another because it's freaking HARD. Because pregnancy and labor is scary and painful. Because with one child I still have a sense of who I am; I'm afraid with two I'll disappear entirely. Because most of the time I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm scared. That's why. "But don't you want your son to have a little playmate?" Sigh.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Learning curve

I am trying out two new things today. They are not going well.

One is my first attempt at baby food making. Going partially off of a Pinterest post and partially winging it, this morning I set about the ambitious task of cooking brown rice and quinoa, steaming carrots, peas, apples and pears, and baking three sweet potatoes, to then be cleverly combined in pleasing fruit/veggie/grain combos much like the squeezy bags we currently utilize. Well. First problem is my craptastic blender was not at all up to the task, and immediately began emitting a harsh burning plastic smell. I do have a hand blender, but it wouldn't have been able to handle this level of chunky food; I also have a combo steamer/blender baby food maker, but the directions say you have to run it through three complete cycles and meticulously clean it with vinegar before even one use, and in the words of Sweet Brown, ain't nobody got time for that. I also discovered I'd made WAY too much food - my two sets of plastic baby food containers were full before I even got through the first combination (quinoa, sweet potato, and apple). And surprise - I only had a couple of ziplock bags left (and not even freezer bags), so I had to shut down operations pretty soon after. I made a brown rice/pea/carrot combo and a blueberry/yogurt/pear one and had to put everything else in the fridge, including the unused quinoa, brown rice, and sweet potatoes. I suppose if B actually likes this food I can consider today a success, but I don't know - apart from the dessert-y yogurt one, they didn't seem all that appealing to me. And then I figure he's just shy of one year old and can probably start eating my food very soon anyway. Most of what I eat can easily be modified for a toddler. Since I got such a late start on this whole solid food thing I've kind of skipped the purée era more or less. But I have to say I don't feel good about what I made today. It was a huge pain in the ass and left a giant mess to clean up and I don't know if B will even eat it. Oh, and for the hour + this took, he whined and screamed the whole time. Sigh.

Ditto my attempts at spending time in the attic space so B can have some "free play" time. So far all he's done the last two days is: pull out and chew on my laptop cord; try to climb his walker and fall and smash his head into the bottom cabinet and scream; find the full to the brim glass of water I poured myself and spill it into the carpet; and stand at the edge of the rollaway bed and whine. Yes. This has been our "free play" time, with all his toys spread all over the floor, ignored. I keep pulling him on to the bed and nursing him in the hopes that he'll nap or be content and play, but neither of these things have happened. He's been exceptionally fussy for days, our sleep has been terrible, and I am exhausted and cranky. Can't you tell?

I'm not sure what the fussiness is about. He's been extra clingy and needy. Probably more teething. I gave him teething tablets last night but they didn't seem to do anything. He's been nursing a lot more (or maybe I'm nursing him more in an attempt at making him happy, and failing). There have been a lot of changes lately. Maybe, like me, he's just trying to adjust.

I belong to a single mothers by choice Facebook group that sprouted from the WTE app. They are mostly in the thinking or trying phase - and mostly younger. I really hand it to those gals in their early thirties and even twenties who decide this is the route for them; part of me thinks they're a little crazy, but then when I'm reminded how often I wish I'd done this earlier so I would have had more options, it makes sense. I guess for me I had to be sure I wouldn't meet someone in time, I had to know my fertility would never survive dating/engagement/being married for a little while/then trying for a baby. But these young gals - I guess they know what they want! There is a thread going on right now about how many kids everyone wants, and I was surprised that only one other woman and I said "one", although not surprised we're the only ones in our forties, which has everything to do with it. Most wanted two or more...some a lot more. And at that point I feel like they're just young and inexperienced and have no idea how hard, and expensive, being a single parent actually is. They all gave the reason that they want their children to have siblings. And I want that, too, but I recognize it's not practical for us. Still I feel guilt about that, especially when B just will not play by himself in his new fabulous play space. He wants a playmate. And he's not going to have one. And I feel like a bit of a jerk for not being willing to suck it up and provide him with one. Still, not enough of a jerk to make me change my mind, though.

I also posted my baby food making fail on FB and a fellow new mom who always has to one-up me wrote simply "I make my baby fresh organic veggie and fruit purées every day", to which I felt like responding, "well, la-dee-frickin' dah!!!"

Sunday, February 10, 2013

End of visit round up

My sister leaves tomorrow AM. We've had a lovely visit. Children just make everything so positive and future-leaning. Instead of dwelling on our shared trauma of (technically) losing our mother and being raised in a cult (of sorts) as we used to when we got together, now it's all about what Bobby's doing now, planning his birthday, enjoying his cuteness. Yet another way that kids enrich your life in ways you'd never expect. He breathed life into this aging family, that's for sure.

She spent the long weekend sleeping in the attic space which fulfills my dream of having a private space up there for overnight guests. I can't tell you how excited I am about having an "upstairs". I feel like I'm living in a real house now - a house where more than two people can coexist without being all up in each other's business; where there are tucked away spaces for people to hide out apart from the common areas. At first we were both a little freaked out about climbing up there - especially the first time I looked through the hole in the floor to see a corner of my kitchen; it was a little creepy. But now it's second nature. Just hold on to the boy, watch your footing going up or down, and it's a snap. And luckily the "trap door" is so heavy it'll be years before B could even lift it, so I don't have to worry about him tumbling down (although I would never leave him unattended up there, not even for a second). My sister makes custom high end drapes and slipcovers so she will make a cover for the futon, some throw pillows, a cover for the bean bag, and a cute play teepee, all made out of striped canvas ticking material for a vintagey nautical feel. I owe it all to Pinterest.

Saturday night I was very much looking forward to going to a new monthly dance put on by some friends of mine, sans baby, but it was not to be. She didn't feel
comfortable watching him for so many hours without me, so I took him with. I had also agreed to judge and tabulate a dance contest which took practically all night, so despite my best efforts I only got two dances in. It was wickedly disappointing but I had to remind myself that even if I hadn't had the baby with me I probably wouldn't have danced much anyway, with the contest taking so much time and most of the guy dancers being newbies who don't know me anymore. I was telling my sister that it's hard for me to accept that the dancing portion of my life is kind of over - I'm not ok with giving that up. It's a very bitter pill for me to swallow. I absolutely hate the monotony of being at home with the baby every single night watching TV; I want to be out dancing; but then I have to remind myself that dancing hasn't been really fun for years. More than a decade, really. There are always a million girls and no guys, and just like in the dating world the girls that are more aggressive get the good guy dancers while the rest of us sit around, bored. I had hoped this new event might be different, might be one night a month I can hire a sitter and be guaranteed to get some good solid dancing in. But I just don't know. I know my dancing days are over but it's a reality I'm not ready to accept yet.

In other news, B is advancing in leaps and bounds. He is "almost" able to feed himself, eats ravenously, smiles for the camera, and mimics people now which he never did before. Actually in the emergency room at one point to distract him I started smacking my lips and he did the same. It was one of the first moments I felt like we were communicating and he wasn't just a mystery wrapped in a conundrum.

Here are some shots from the weekend:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

All lousy things must come to an end

Two things finally resolved today - the playroom is finished (well, except for the cabinet doors that the contractor apparently forgot to order, and the repair of the hallway light and broken screen door). But it is a useable room, just in time for my sister's visit tomorrow.

I took B in to remove the stitch and also talk about options for removal of the mole entirely; thank goodness they offered to do a basic removal today with just a little shot of numbing medicine; they scooped the thing out and now he has a little depression there. They say it will scar but anything is better than an eruptive mole!!! If it returns we'll have to do real plastic surgery with anesthesia which freaks me out a bit so let's hope that doesn't happen, ever. Here are some pics of the new room and a little before and after as a reminder of what it used to look like. B was positively thrilled to be able to crawl and play freely.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Moles, clothes and money matters

It's a rare moment of me being awake while the baby sleeps so I thought I'd blog. The contractors are right outside my bedroom window using the circular saw and pressurized nail gun - but this does not seem to be bothering B at all. He's determined to get those ten hours of sleep! Our sleep has been all f'd up lately. Last night he was climbing the walls until nearly 1 AM; I kept trying everything I could to get him to relax and sleep but he just wasn't having it. You'd think he was the one who ate those three candy bars I got from my friend's baby shower right before bed! He has been up a lot at night and I have just been feeding him. I figure at a time like this with The Mole still looming and the ER visit still in recent memory, it's no time to be "tough" and try to make him sleep without comfort. Screw that. Ironically with him staying up later and sleeping later I am feeling more rested. I just feel better when I wake up after 9:30 or preferably 10 AM. Anything before 9 and I feel foggy all day, regardless of how much sleep I got. I guess old habits die hard.

So The Mole is holding steady. It's a constant torment keeping B from pulling off the bandage and picking at it, and changing them is almost impossible - you really do need two (or three!) people to hold down both arms, both legs, keep him from flipping over, hold his head in place, AND carefully place a band aid so it doesn't cover his eye or tack down his eyelashes and yet still covers the boo boo. Yet I've managed all this several times so I must be doing something right. I find doing it in the carseat is helpful because at least he's somewhat restrained.

We have a dermatology appointment tomorrow to remove the stitch and see what's what. I don't know why in my mind I think everything will be resolved tomorrow; I know it won't. There will no doubt just be a consult tomorrow, with subsequent appointments and hopefully procedures. I'm going to lose it if they decide to just let this mole hang out there - how do I know this thing isn't just going to start bleeding out of control again? And what if it happens when I'm not there, or far from home? What if it happens during my event? There's got to be something we can do to shrink/tie up/cauterize this thing so it's not in danger of bleeding anymore. Still can't get over how bizarre this all is. I knew I didn't like that mole when it appeared but I didn't know how much it would become my worst enemy!

Speaking of my event, over the moon with the results of my pricing experiment. The sign ups have stopped now (and probably won't start up again for a while) but I have enough in the bank to comfortably make it to mid-May or even June; if I get some big tax bill this will change of course but at least I won't have to borrow to pay it (I don't think). I feel as though a huge weight has lifted off my shoulders. A week ago I had $500 to my name and $12,000 in debt. Now everything has changed (well, the debt is still there). I'm always surprised, and more than a little annoyed, by how the presence or absence of money has the ability to affect my sense of wellbeing so much.

Last night I did a much needed clean out of B's outgrown clothes. A friend recently gave me a huge box of boy clothes - and I have to say I'm easily covered for the next year. And her stuff is really good quality and cute (she has impeccable taste). So I have put aside nearly all his onesies and little sweat pants in the place of jeans and cute shirts. It's big boy clothes! It always cracks me up when I have him in a shirt, jacket, and pants instead of an all in one zip up baby outfit - he looks like such a little man. I am really behind a lot of my friends in the dressing baby cute department - as noted I'm pretty lazy and tend to dress him, and myself, in the same things over and over, mostly comfortable "slop clothes" as I call them; t shirt and sweat pants for him, jeans and t shirt for me. But I'm trying to make an effort to dress him up a little more as he grows. It's amazing to me that some of the remaining shower clothes I thought were SO huge are now his size!!! It's a real moment when you've come to the end of the shower clothes, isn't it?

I have kicked the contractor's butt to finish today. I have my cleaning lady coming at 1:30 to clean up the mess they have made over the past five weeks - the filthy floors, the filthy bathroom, the dust on everything. I hate to think of them still needing time after today and the cleaning being for nought; but I doubt they're going to finish today. I got the cleaner in today because my sister is coming to visit Thursday. So what we may have to do is just stop down work until next week. They still have to place the bed drawers, shelves next to the bed, shelves in the cabinets, doors on the cabinets, ac vent, make the skylight openable, and lay the carpet. Is this all going to happen in three hours? I think not.

I at last quit the Hall of Fame board! I called the Vice President and pleaded poverty (can't afford a sitter for the meetings - kind of true) and inability to do the work of Secretary which I never wanted to take on. Really after learning that so many of the winners weren't actually the winners (when I double checked the tabulation, I found most of the results were incorrect) I should have just resigned in protest then. Oh well. I can be kind of slow to react sometimes. But now I am free of that terrible burden, with no regrets. Instead I can focus on what matters - Bumpus, and my upcoming event. Yes!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

This is my toy

I did a takeoff of The Rifleman's Creed on Facebook with this photo attached (this is my toy, there is no other toy like it), but nobody got the reference. Has nobody seen Full Metal Jacket???

Anyway, had a harrowing day yesterday watching B like a hawk to make sure he didn't pick at his mole. I didn't even feel comfortable showering so I just put us both in the bath instead. I was terrified to go to sleep and wake up to a screaming, blood-covered baby again; I had major anxiety about it and took forever to fall asleep. However, knock wood, we made it through the night, he has a clean bandage, and I feel more confident that we'll make it until his appointment, whenever that ends up being.

And with my absolute deadline for finishing the attic coming up (cleaning lady in Tues, then my sister in Thurs), the contractor spent the day here working yesterday, although at one point it was quiet for a long time and I wasn't sure if he left, so I poked my head up there and found him asleep on the floor. Really looking forward to this being done but there's still a ton of work to do - cabinet doors, drawers in the bed frame, a vent for the ac/heat, shelves hung, door for the floor hole, carpet in, plus fixing all the mess they've made around here. There is no way they're going to get that all done in one day tomorrow. I'm a little annoyed this ran SO late, although I know being derailed by the sewer issues didn't help. The place is looking good, though. I get so excited when I look at the toys B hasn't been able to play with yet because there isn't any open floor space for him - blocks, building stuff - he's really going to blossom with all that freedom. It's going to be great.

The best news, though, is my event is kicking ass. Registrations still pouring in even though the early price break already passed, which surprised me. Now I may not see a registration for months after this early push, but it kind of doesn't matter - I have enough money now to comfortably make it until May, and that's assuming not one person signs up between now and May, which is impossible. So my gamble to try this new pricing structure paid off big time, as well as moving the date. Traditionally early big numbers mean late big numbers. When my opening night is "meh", that's not a good sign. But I've never had a great opening night and a lousy event. So I'm thrilled, to say the least. I feel like I can breathe again.

Now to get to the bottom of this whole mole thing...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Our trip to the ER

There has to be a first time, huh? So I finally had my Kramer vs. Kramer moment. Only Bumpus didn't fall, or get burned, or choke. His stupid red vascular mole under his eye burst and would not stop bleeding. So, I put my big girl pants on and called 911.

It was so ironic because I had just that day taken him to see the pediatrician to check out the mole, and they told me pretty much nothing but to get a referral to a dermatologist. When we got home I went to change his diaper, he flipped over as he always does, and when I turned him back around his face was covered with blood. Then came a couple of hours of screaming, squirming, and flailing as I attempted to staunch it - and this blood would not stop. At first I thought the mole had just "burst" and I was happy that it was probably going away; but when the blood kept coming I knew that wasn't the case. Still by the time B, I, and the entire bed were covered with blood I was able to stick a piece of toilet paper on it and it at last stopped bleeding.

We had a pleasant evening, I opened for registration, dealt with emails and bank accounts, and went to bed. At about one AM he woke up, fussing - covered in blood. I tried again to staunch it, but this time it was really pouring out. The poor guy was so tired that after a prolonged period of screaming he would fall asleep as I held a tissue, or his PJs, on his face. Then he would scream again.

At one point I looked at the bloody sheets, the pile of soaked tissues, and the blood covered baby in my arms, and said to myself, "are you crazy? Fucking call 911!" So I did. A bunch of nice firemen came into my house as I sat there in my underwear with Bumpus. They took me to the nearest ER and gave some medicine to stop the bleeding, then after a couple of hours put in a stitch, and by 4 AM sent me home.

He was actually ok during this process - I knew he wasn't in pain (he actually smiled and flirted with the nurses), just tired and scared. It's funny how all other functions get forgotten in times like those, too - I completely forgot that he might have a wet diaper or might be hungry. My main concern was how the hell are we going to get home? Thank GOD one of my single friends ran her dance club tonight and was awake; she came by, got my keys, and went to my house to pick up my carseat and back to the ER. I seriously owe her a lunch! But situations like this really make me think, so you wanna be a single parent, huh?

I put B to bed around 4:30. At 8:00 he woke up, covered in blood again. I don't know if he swiped his face in the night or if it just started on its own. But thankfully I was able to get it to stop after a few minutes and he fell back asleep. I left the blood all over both of us and the bed. I was just too exhausted to care.

The contractor called to say he'd come work today so I asked him to bring some small round band aids. I don't feel like I can relax until this thing has some kind of cover on it so he can't pick it and start the floodgates all over again. I hope I can get in to a dermatologist this week and I hope we can talk about removing the mole which is frustratingly still there in all its glory. I certainly don't want to spend B's entire childhood having to go through this every few months! I am officially out of sheets and pillow cases.

So I would like to put out to the universe a request to please stop kicking my ass now. I've pretty much had it.

Opening night registration went well, though. So there is that.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Tease

I have now lived in LA for twenty years. I don't know the exact date, but I know I came here somewhere around January 20-29th in 1993. I was twenty years old, I only had one vague contact (a church friend of the family who I didn't know very well), a suitcase, and a dream. When people ask why I left NYC for LA I tell them I was seeking technical film work, which is true. I had had a few frustrating years post-high school working at a hipster video store in the East Village while desperately trying to find work in the (at the time) tiny film industry, which usually resulted in unpaid internships or production assistant jobs. Still, the real reason I moved to LA was for a guy.

In the late eighties and early nineties it seemed like everyone who lived in the East Village was either an addict or a recovering addict. One of my coworkers, Lynne, was in the recovering camp (and to this day I've never done a drug or taken a drink, so naturally I gravitated towards the sober types), and I fell in with her group of sober friends. One of them was a guy named David. He had blondish-reddish curly hair, a prominent nose, was a nice Jewish boy, was a screenwriter, and so of course was JUST MY TYPE. The only problem was...I was already dating a nice red headed Jewish boy. Oops.

It's hard to remember the details now, but I believe it went something like this: I met David as a friend, then he moved away to LA. We kept in touch, and the boyfriend and I broke up but were still kind of messing around (as you do at 20), and David came to visit and we started flirting around. We had a wonderful date one night and a wonderful end of night kiss, with talk of me coming to visit him at some point. I thought he was going to be my next boyfriend. So I started to make plans for a visit. 

At the time I wasn't thinking of moving to LA right away - I thought I'd visit and suss it out first. So in January of 1993 I headed out to LA with dreams of palm trees in my head...but more than that, dreams of David. On the phone he'd said he was "psyched to see" me. And we did get together. We had a nice date at a Mediterranean place, and then went back to his place and messed around, but did not sleep together (you see a pattern here...?), with excuses of "having to get up early", etc. We did not see each other again. Ever.

However, it was not over, not as far as I was concerned. I was set to return to NY in a few days...but I had already so fallen in love with the warm weather and sunshine that one day I called my mother and asked, "is there any reason to return to New York?" and when she told me there really wasn't, I decided I was going to become a California resident, on the spot. I had only a suitcase, no money, no job, nowhere to live, and an apartment in NY, but none of those things were going to stand in my way. Ah, the folly of youth! Thank God we have those kind of balls at that age - I could NEVER do something like that now!

So I "moved" to LA. I found a place to live (through the church I attended at the time), sublet my apartment in NY (to the ex-boyfriend), quit my job over the phone, and that was it. However, David was not returning my calls. Or rather, he would return maybe one out of ten - and always when I was out. And that was how it was to go for the better part of a year. I became a stalker. I'm not proud of it. But I was determined to "get" him, whatever that meant; I liked him enough that I was going to do whatever it took. It didn't occur to me at the time that maybe he didn't want to be with ME - I really didn't care. So I called him and left a message every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Why on earth would anyone do this? Why wasn't it so obvious that he wasn't interested? Why didn't I just move on? Well, for one reason I was young and stupid and desperate. But there's a little more to it - and something I didn't really understand until years later. See, whenever I was about to give up on him, he'd give me just a taste. He'd call back and tell me yeah, let's totally get together, I've just been really busy. Sorry I haven't called. And then I would call back. And leave messages. For weeks. And then I'd get fed up. And then he'd call and say yeah, let's get together, I've just been really busy. And this went on and on. In the meantime I was trying to get my life started - learning to drive, failing my driving test over and over, trying to find a car, trying to find a job, navigating this giant city. It was a horribly lonely time. I knew no one and had nothing to do all day, and no money to do it with; my only activity was walking to the local library and taking out books and reading them. I did read a lot of great books during that time. But oh, was I bored and lonely! And every moment tormented by the thought that I had made a huge mistake and I should just turn around and go home.

And don't forget, this was 1993. No Facebook. No cell phones. No email, or even internet at all. Most people didn't have home computers (I certainly didn't). So all I had was my land line phone and my old school message machine with the little mini cassette in it. And the once in a while message from David - yeah, let's get together. I've just been really busy.

I finally got fed up and sent him a letter saying I was sorry I'd been bothering him, that clearly he wasn't interested and I was going to leave him alone now. And of course got a call from him, another message. Yeah, let's get together. 

When I FINALLY got a job after eight months, I let him go. I also started dating through the personal ad section of the LA Weekly, which in those days always brought on a short term boyfriend. I finally left David alone. But that whole episode was very painful. What, exactly, happened there?

For many years I felt horribly guilty and ashamed, feeling like it was all my fault, that I had acted so crazy, that I had been a stalker. And technically I was. But a few years ago I finally looked at it from his point of view. And you know what? He's not innocent here. A normal person would either NEVER call me again, in which case I would have gotten the hint within a couple of weeks and left him alone. Why did he string me along like that? He must have listened to my messages that he got every single day for months. A normal person would call back or send a letter saying you have to stop this, it's not ok to call me all the time, I've moved on, etc. That's what I would do, today. Why didn't he?

Well, in my adult dating life I've encountered this kind of behavior from men over and over again - countless times, actually. And I don't understand it because I would never treat someone like that. But men are wusses. They don't want to hurt your feelings, they don't want to watch you cry or get upset. They're afraid of us. So they don't tell the truth and just say or do what they think will make us happy in the moment - they fill our heads with future dates, even engagements and kids, because they know that's what we want to hear, even though they have no intention of following through on any of it. They keep us stringing along because it's an ego boost, because they're lonely and want attention but don't want any real commitment, and they figure if they didn't sleep with us they don't owe us anything. They keep us on the side while they pursue the one they actually want to work out...just in case she doesn't work out. I bet David had a girlfriend out here but messed around with me because he wanted to...and then felt guilty. But didn't have the wherewithal to tell me he wasn't actually available. Or interested.

I saw David a few years later at a film screening with a ring on his finger and a woman with a ring on her finger. He recently published an acclaimed novel. I have nothing but good wishes for him and his future. In the end, none of it matters. It got me to LA. It's unlikely I would have moved here if not for him; it's probably something I would have tried to "save up" for for years, and it never would have become a reality. So for that (and nothing else!), I thank him.