killing it

I work part time. Mostly, I feel like this is a nice balance. But the word “balance” is a little misleading. It’s more like a seesaw than a tightrope. Over the summer, I was slow at work. I had lots of time to get stuff done around the house, and lots of time with the kids (including Bumby). I was able to take time off when he was sick, deal with the sleep deprivation caused by his weird clingy phase, and meet him at the pool when I could get out early.  I forced the older kids off the couch and into engaging activities (like looking at their phone by the pool, rather than on the couch.)  I was killing it on the mom front. But work was suffering. I wasn’t busy enough to feel like I was involved, I had just switched to a new job and didn’t know anyone, and my boss was irritated with me a few times.

The last month, things have gotten much better at work. I got a bunch of great feedback from a new partner I had not worked with before. My hours were high, and I was really engaged on a couple of interesting projects. I was killing it. But I was totally disengaged as a parent. I often had to plop Bumby on the floor with a toy and hope he would stay quiet while I tried to revise an email, and I worked frantically every time he went down for his nap. Sometimes, I would hear him wake up and be so frustrated, because if he had just slept a little longer, I could get a document out.  I was late getting home, so on my in-office days I would sometimes spend only 15 minutes with him before he went to bed.  Once, he fell off a rock because I was trying to take a conference call while also helping him climb the rock (because if he couldn’t climb the rock, he would scream, and I would be busted). Also, I left my 11 year old at football practice for a half hour (at 8pm, at the field by the freeway) because I was stretched too thin and messed up the carpool schedule.  My non-work hours were getting totally swallowed up by work, and Bumby  and the other kids were suffering for it.

So I dug in. I refused to work over the weekend, other than when Bumby was napping. I watched the debates and edited a document at the same time so didn’t have to miss them (and the chance to provide color-commentary to the older kids while we watched).  I declined invites for two calls this morning, and took Bumby to music class and on a bike ride to the park instead. We had a great morning, and I did not yell and he did not cry, not even once.  He did not fall off of anything high or play with any sharp objects.  I cleaned the kitchen and scheduled some home maintenance work during his nap instead of working.  And then, when the babysitter got here and my scheduled work hours started, I sat down at my desk to discover I had made an embarrassing mistake in the document I worked on last night, and the partner who gave me the good feedback before said he thought the work I did over the weekend was sort of… not as good as some other stuff I had done in the past.  Sort of like I rushed it a bit, I guess.

So that’s it. I kill it here, and it kills me there. Up and down, down and up.

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the beach

It has been ages since I have written anything. Isn’t that one of the cruel ironies of blogging, that when you have time to write, nothing is going on and you have nothing to say. When ALL OF THE THINGS are happening and requiring much thought and analysis, you don’t have even a few minutes to write anything.

Accordingly, you are owed one of those omnibus update type posts.  This is not that.  This is the post where I write about one very bad thing that has happened.

The Bumby is very sick, again.

On Friday he started to seem out of sorts. No appetite, a desire for extra napping, that kind of thing. We had planned to go out to Fire Island, where we have a beach house, and so we did. Friday night, he felt warm.  This kid kind of gets fevers at the drop of a hat, so we gave him some Tylenol and went to dinner. He perked up and ate some bread, and charmed the waiter by saying Thank You every time he brought something to our table.  It was all very uneventful.

Saturday morning, he was still warm. We don’t have a thermometer at our beach house, so I don’t really know how warm is warm, but he was… you know. Warm.  We gave him some more Tylenol and discussed our plan.  We decided to take him down to the beach because it is actually cooler than the house, and he could play in the water. Even for having a fever he was behaving pretty normally. He was energetic, and happy.  Plus he kept saying “Walk, walk. Beach, beach.” So off to the beach we went, promising ourselves we would stay only an hour.  He played. He tried to eat small crustaceans. He filled a bucket with sand, dumped it out, and filled it again. He drank “wa-wa” the entire time.  Then he crawled up into my lap and asked for milk, so I nursed him. And he fell asleep, just as our designated beach time was up.

After much hemming and hawing, we decided he needed the sleep and it would be a disaster to take him home and risk waking him up and ruining his nap when he obviously needed one, because he was a bit sick. I put a towel over us to keep the sun off of him. It wasn’t hot under the towel, honestly. I swear.  I get hot very easily, and I was comfortable.  After 20 minutes or so, Bumby made a meowing sound and picked his head up.  He looked at me, and he was terrified.  His eyes were all wide and his mouth was open. Just then, his arms started shaking and he collapsed down onto my chest. “Something is wrong with Bumby!”

I was too afraid. I handed him to my wife so she could look at him, and he went totally limp. His eyes rolled back in his head, and he was completely non-responsive.  We started running to the boardwalk to take him to the clinic in our town.  As we got off the beach, he stopped breathing and started turning blue. I ran ahead to get the doctor, and our friend called 911 while my wife ran behind me, holding the limp and non-responsive Bumby.  I thought he was dying.  I was actually fairly sure that he was dying.

By the time she caught up with me at the doctor’s office, Bumby was responsive, the proper color for a baby, and wet.  My wife had a guy watering his plants hose down Bumby.  Apparently, what happened was a febrile seizure.  This is a harmless event and happens to some kids when their fever shoots up too fast.  Frankly, I don’t care if it’s not unusual, and I don’t care if it’s harmless.  I never, ever want to see it happen to my little guy again.  It was terrifying.  Regardless, we were med-evac’ed off the island and rushed to the ER.

Even though he was hot, and feverish, we were told not to give him water in case he had another seizure and threw it up and aspirated. After no less than five attempts, they decided they could not give Bumby an IV to re-hydrate him. He is too small, too fat, and his veins are too little.  Five times, I held down my screaming baby and let them stick him with needles for no reason.  Finally, hours later, I was allowed to nurse him and give him water and apple juice. It took several hours to collect urine from him because he was so dehydrated at this point. His fever hovered around 104. Which I know, because they shoved a thermometer up his ass on an hourly basis. He refused the Tylenol, so guess what they did?  Yep, they held him down and forced it.  He was choking and spluttering the whole time, and after they were done he promptly vomited up not only the Tylenol but the potato chips and 4 oz of water I had convinced him to eat and drink.  So then they gave him the Tylenol by suppository.  It was a total nightmare, and in the end they did nothing for him.  I hated the hospital, all of the nurses, and one of the doctors.  There was a PA that I liked, and she was the only thing that made the visit even remotely bearable (that, and the fact that the EMT liked Bumby’s real name so much that she and her wife are going to name their soon-to-be son after him).

He is still sick. He has had antibiotics for an ear infection, which maybe caused the super high fever, but maybe did not.  In addition to the ER visit, he got a trip to the pediatric urgent care and his regular pediatrician. They can’t find anything wrong other than the ear infection, but it’s been six days now and his fever is still in the 101 range (I have been calling him the Heatmeiser, because he’s Mr. Hundred-and-one).

So, what’s wrong with Bumby? No one knows.  Did this happen because we stupidly took a feverish baby to the beach? No one knows.  In any event, I am partly glad we made the decisions that we did, because if we had gone home or not gone to the beach in the first place, he would have been napping in his crib. Which means he in all likelihood he would have had the seizure anyway, only he would have been alone instead of in my arms. I might not have even known it happened, because the whole thing was basically silent. This realization has caused us to sleep with Bumby for each of the last five nights, so that we can be sure he is breathing and alive at all times.  So far, so good.

We are supposed to go back to the beach this weekend with some friends. Obviously, if Bumby has even the hint of a fever, we are not doing that. But if he doesn’t have a fever… I still don’t know. I am scared to have him someplace where we can’t easily get to a good hospital. I am just sort of scared in general.  I haven’t gone into work all week because I am afraid that he will take a turn for the worse and I will be an hour away. If I knew what was wrong with him I might be able to deal, but I don’t and I might not ever. He might just be a kid who gets scary-high fevers from nothing or anything.

Anyway, that’s it. That’s the very bad thing that has happened. Is happening, whatever.

twelve weeks, and also thirteen

I am a bit behind on the posting, not because nothing has been happening, but because so much has been happening.

1.  I hit 12 weeks, and had my ob appointment with the man doctor.  Surprisingly, I very much liked the man doctor.  He spent over an hour talking to my wife and me about our various genetic testing options, how the pregnancy was going, and who even knows what else.  So we have decided to stay at our current ob practice, and I am so grateful I can cross this stressor off the to-do list.  The sonogram portion of the nuchal translucency screening put us well into the normal range, which was a relief.  The man-doctor also noted that I have a “very prominent uterus.”  I think this means that it sticks out.  I knew this already, because I could feel it in my tummy, well above my pubic bone, and also, at 12 weeks, and only 4lbs of weight-gain, I looked like this:

12 weeks selfie

Normally I avoid the following: (1) selfies taken in a mirror with an iphone, (2) crappily lit pictures, and (3) pictures that show how messy my room is, but whatever. I look pregnant!  Also extremely tan.  I promise it’s all from an hour here and there on the beach, with sunscreen, and not from unnatural sources.  I just tan sort of naturally.  Anyway, that is the picture I have, so that is the picture you get. My mom tells me her belly was “prominent” early also, which is weird because when I asked her what she remembered about pregnancy, the only thing she could come up with was that her hair was very tangled.  Now that I am actually pregnant, and I mention symptoms or pregnancy goings-on, she always says, “Me too!”  I guess, given that 30 years have elapsed since her last pregnancy, things are a little fuzzy.

2.  On a high from the doctor’s appointment, we decided to break the news to the kids.  They were… not pleased.  Well, at least the Big One was not pleased.  I am sure you can imagine that this is a vast understatement, as thirteen year olds generally manifest displeasure in a rather dramatic fashion.  We’re trying our best to help her work through it, but if you have ever tried to communicate with a teenager about something they don’t. want. to. discuss. you will understand the difficulty we are having.  The Boo is generally silent on these topics anyway (“these topics” being her thoughts about things, or her feelings), and our Boy Child just wanted to know that we were going to ensure it was a boy so he could have a brother.  I am glad that the Boo is headed off to Denmark today, as it will give her some time and space to process how she really feels about the baby with someone she feels safe with, and without her sister trying to convince her it’s horrible and her parents trying to convince her it’s great.  Not that we have been anything but supportive of however she feels, but she’s not stupid. She knows we want her to be happy and excited about the baby, like we are.  Our little boy is just relieved that some of the tension in the house has dissipated, so that he can get back to what really matters:  going to the swimming pool.  It is summertime, after all.  Let’s not ruin it with a lot of stomping around.

I have to say, it’s disappointing that their reaction was so negative.  Pretty much everyone else has been happy-to-ecstatic about the baby, and obviously we are, too.  And yet really, when it comes down to it, the only people whose reaction I care about are these kids.  I hope that they can get used to the idea, and even become a little excited. At least my mother is over the moon. She is actually knitting booties. I didn’t even know babies wore booties anymore, but our little peach will have some, courtesy of grandma.

3.  Week 13 started yesterday, which means that I am officially in the second trimester.  I also got the full results of the nuchal scan from my doctor’s office – everything is fine, and I am considered very low-risk.  With this great news, and the fact that I have needed to wear maternity pants all week, I decided to tell my office that I was pregnant, even though we don’t get our full genetic test results back for a week at least.  My first boss asked a million questions, most of which I thought you weren’t allowed to ask.  Like, whether we used an anonymous donor.  Really!  I wanted to tell him that the donor was David Crosby, but I think he would have actually believed me, and then the joke would have been wasted.  I just answered with as little information as possible, saying that we used an anonymous donor through our doctor’s office, and then he proceeded with his list of questions you are not allowed to ask. Telling my other boss went fine – no inappropriate questions were asked, and the whole thing took about 2 minutes.  And now here I sit, officially Pregnant At Work.  In celebration, I bought a bunch of relatively ugly but work-appropriate maternity clothes at Target.  Okay, not that ugly, but, you know. Not really cute either.

unaccompanied minor: why we’re letting our 11 year old fly to Denmark alone

Generous discounts for children with SAS

Our daughter (Boo, the middle one) has a friend who is half-American, half-Danish.  Every summer, the friend goes to Denmark for a month, they pick up their new au pair, and head back to the US.  Our girls are good friends.  Best friends, crazy-good friends, who do everything together.  The month of July, while her friend is gone, is kind of agony for Boo.  Every year, Boo’s friend’s mom tries to make up for this month away by planning camp or some other activity for the girls to do together, which really never works out for us.  They are gone for July, and August is kind of a family time for us.  We go on vacation, we get ready for back to school, we lie around and complain about how humid it is.  You know?  So not really the time we want to ship our daughter off to camp.

This year, Boo’s friend’s mom came up with a new idea — suggested, no doubt, by the girls.  Boo could come to Denmark too!  Maybe not for a month, but for a week!  Which would involve Boo flying to Denmark alone.  Of course, the friend’s mom said YES!  So it was up to us.  Now, let’s set aside the fact that the friend’s mom said yes before running it by us, thereby guaranteeing that we would be The Most Hated Parents if we were to say no, which, of course, made us want to say no.  Our Boo is, shall we say, not the most responsible of children.  She is our Pokey Puppy, the one who can’t get herself ready for school without reminders, who still, even with reminders, sometimes does not brush her hair.  She gets distracted playing with the dog, or her brother, or making faces at herself in the mirror while singing.  Often, when we leave the house, we say “Boo.  Got your backpack?  Your lunch?  Your head?” “Yes, yes yes!” she answers.  I drop them off at school, and she rushes out to meet her friend.  Then I get to the train station, and see the lunchbox sitting on the backseat.  Honestly, I am sometimes shocked I have not seen the head sitting back there.

She had raised this before, wanting to go to Denmark.  No, Boo, we had said.  You’re not ready.  You’re too young to fly, and go through customs, alone.  We like the idea, but you’re just not ready yet.  Plus, we have never been to Denmark.  We don’t know what it’s like, or what to expect.  And besides, you haven’t been invited.

Well, then she was invited.  The conversation was the same.  She was disappointed, but not surprised.  No, Boo.  You’re too young, you’re not ready.   And honestly?  She is.  It makes us totally uncomfortable to think of her leaving her passport or Deno (her beloved stuffed dog, pronounced like “Dino” the dog from the Flintstones, but not spelled the same, because Deno is a girl) or her head, for heaven’s sake, sitting on the airplane as she bops off, singing Let It Go to herself and waving at the pilot.

That day, I read the Atlantic article about the Overprotected Kid, and nodded along.  Of course, when I was a kid, our neighbors had a treehouse where no grownups were allowed, and where we once started a fire in an old kitchen pot.  We played Ghost in the Graveyard and Flashlight Tag in the backyard of one house while our parents all drank margaritas on the deck of another.  I walked to and from school alone from first grade on.  I had that childhood, the free, liberating, unsupervised one that no one now has.  I loved it.  And I chafe at the fact that our kids are not allowed to run during recess (this is real), and aren’t permitted by the school to walk home without an adult until they are in fifth grade.  My wife’s upbringing was similar, and involved mud-ball fights against neighborhood kids, spy clubs and long days at the community pool, where there were parents somewhere, just not anywhere nearby.  It also involved a trip to Minnesota and a trip cross-country, in middle school and early high school, without parents.  I mentioned the article at dinner, and showed the kids the pictures of the “dangerous” playground it featured.  They agreed it looked awesome.  Then we sent them off to change into their pajamas.

And my wife and I looked at each other, and knew in our gut that saying “No” was the wrong decision.  Maybe Boo and her best friend wouldn’t be best friends next year, and she wouldn’t be invited to Denmark when she was “ready.”  Maybe it wasn’t Boo that wasn’t ready at all — maybe it was us.  One of our principle rules of parenting comes from Dirty Dancing — when you’re wrong, you say you’re wrong.  So when Boo came back to the kitchen after changing into her pajamas, we said we were wrong.  It was the wrong decision to say No to Denmark.  We told her the reasons why we made the decision we had, and why we had reconsidered.  The way she said “Thank you!” and the hugs that followed, I will never forget.  She later told us she couldn’t sleep that night because she was shaking with happiness.

I’m still not totally comfortable with the thought of her flying off to a country we have never visited, without her parents, to spend a week doing things we can’t even imagine.  But it’s really not about what makes me comfortable.  It’s about what’s best for our daughter.  And what’s best for her is to fly, totally supervised by trained, competent airline personnel, to visit her friend.  To have a million experiences she will never get any other way, and will probably never have again.  To have the chance to grow into it.  To make mistakes, and learn from them.  To feel the fear and the freedom of doing something totally new, all on her own.

Maybe she will leave something important on the plane. Maybe she won’t.  But either way, that won’t be what she remembers.  She will remember visiting her friend, and she will remember that we trusted her.

And just when I have those doubts, that maybe she’s not ready, she comes in and tells me new Danish words that she learned from watching YouTube videos.  She can say “thank you,” and “please,” and “I like to read.”  It is already an unforgettable experience for her.

(The picture of the young Hermione Granger look-alike with her friend is from the SAS website – the airline that will be carrying our daughter off to foreign lands we have never visited)