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.

lean in

In the last month, I have been consistently busier at work than ever before in the five years I’ve been a lawyer. I’ve made it home before the kids are in bed only a handful of times, and have gone into the office for full workdays on the weekends. I am stressed, I am tired, and I am short-tempered.

My wife has also had a crazy-stressful run at work. She is emotionally exhausted, and picking up all the slack at home caused by my long hours. She is stressed, she is tired, and she is short-tempered.

Normally, for us anyway, this kind of a situation would cause us to fight. We are both passionately strong-willed women who are often convinced of our own underlying competence and general right-ness. And we’re both lawyers! In the lead up to our wedding last year, we snapped, argued, and debated our way up to the altar. On our honeymoon, with the stress of the wedding behind us and a long stretch of days to be together, we talked about the wedding and decided that if we could so the whole thing over again, there was only one thing we’d do differently. We’d spend the night together the night before the wedding.

See, we had this huge misunderstanding on our wedding day, caused 100% by the fact that we couldn’t really communicate with each other. We had decided not to see each other until we walked down the aisle, so the getting-ready portion of the day was a series if clipped cell phone conversations, ambiguous text messages, and comments filtered through well-intentioned friends and relatives. If we had seen each other, face to face, and just talked for even a few minutes, that last minute misunderstanding-turned-argument could have been avoided.

And so, we made another vow to each other on our honeymoon, one that I think is every bit as important as the vows we made at our wedding. Going forward, we promised each other, over dinner on a soft night in the Caribbean, we would lean in to each other. When things got hard, and stressful, and we had too much on our plates and too little time, we would support each other and rely on our marriage and our love for each other to get us through.

Over the past year, this has been tested. Sometimes we have failed, and we’ve taken our stress out on each other, we’ve let disagreements escalate into arguments and arguments into full-scale fights. We’ve let parenting disagreements get the better of us.

But this time, by some small miracle or by sheer force of will, we are doing it right. When I snapped at my wife for an entire day on Sunday, she was patient with me. When I hung up on her yesterday after she took it poorly that it would be another 16 hour workday for me, I called back and apologized for taking it out on her that I was so frustrated with work. But mostly, we’ve just leaned on each other, talked, cried, and fought through our stressful life side by side, instead of head to head.

I am shocked how much trying to get pregnant has added to the stress of it all. I’m convinced that we were too late with the insemination this month, and that I’m not pregnant. My wife is more hopeful than that, and has been having conversations with our little peanut that I’m not privy to.  This is the piece that has been so important to me this month.  I need her hope.  I need to believe we didn’t waste our precious time and money doing something that was pointless.  Even if this isn’t the month, I need to believe that it could be the month (or could have been  the month, if it turns out not to be).  I need her telling me that, you know what?  People get pregnant in war zones.  Those women have more stress and less sleep than I do, and they get pregnant.  Maybe it’s not the optimal thing for fertility, to be working 16 hours a day and commuting for 3, but it’s also not the end of the story.  So she tucks me in, keeps the dog quiet for what few hours of sleep I get, and rubs my shoulder on the weekend (yes, only one shoulder, then she got tired – I take what I can get) to get the knots out.

focus on fertility: introduction

Over the past few weeks, I have been reading the book Fully Fertile, by Tami Quinn, Beth Heller, and Jeanie Lee Bussell. Because our first insemination will take place during the month of July, we are about four months away. This week, I’m going to start going through the exercises in the book, and will update this blog with my progress. Before I get started though, I wanted to write a bit about why a woman who has never even tried to get pregnant thinks that a book about infertility will be so useful.

I work in an extraordinarily high-stress environment. Last summer, when we got married, this high-stress job had an extremely negative impact on my ability to enjoy my own wedding. I started this particular job about 13 months ago, so when I was in the run up to the wedding, I was still relatively new, and had a difficult time (still do, in fact, have a difficult time) creating boundaries between my work and the rest of my life. Add to that the fact that we planned on having our wedding at our home, which required significant work before it would be ready for the event, and my stress reach a level in the weeks before the wedding where all I wanted was for the wedding to be over so that I could rest. With a wedding, a person is able to force her way through this kind of stress, and the wedding day comes and goes whether you are ready for it or not. The first three days of our honeymoon, my wife and I both spent much of the time sleeping. The result of taking on too much and pushing through was that a few weeks after the wedding, I realized that felt like I had missed it.

This process won’t work with respect to getting pregnant and having a baby. You can’t force this kind of thing. Aside from that, I don’t want to. One thing I learned from my wedding is that just because you can do it all, it doesn’t mean you should. Recently, I’ve been very, very stressed. I’ve been snapping at the kids, suffered from insomnia, and had to go for a run at 10pm because of my work stress and dissatisfaction wiht my job. I can’t quit it right now, so I realized that I had to really do something to deal with the stress I am under. That’s where Fully Fertile comes in. Even though I am not struggling with infertility — to my knowledge — I knew I needed a way to get in touch with my body, my mind, my emotions, and just take care of myself during this extremely difficult and stressful time. I’m doing the exercises in the book in the context of planning for a baby, but I am doing them to take care of myself and give myself the support I know I’ll need to make it through the next year-plus at a job I find so stressful and challenging to cope with, while also going through the life-changing process of having a baby.

The Fully Fertile program uses yoga, Oriental Medicine, nutrition, and spiritual practices like meditation to optimize physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and provide support for the conception process. But the posts in this series won’t just focus on what the exercises in the book are — you will need to purchase the book to get that. And I’m not here to sell books. Instead, these posts will be my journey, using the book as a tool, to try to get in touch with my own physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health to support myself through a time I know will be challenging. I invite anyone who is going through a similar process to join in.

Because I’m a type-A, driven sort of person, I know that I need to focus my attention somewhere, to avoid becoming a bit obsessive and drive my stress levels even higher if we aren’t able to conceive right away. The exercises will give me a focal point and give me something to work on so that I can prioritize self-care, otherwise managing my health and stress will definitely take a back seat to the ever-growing To Do list.

Lastly, although the Fully Fertile program is designed to be done over the course of 12 weeks, which means I technically would not need to start until mid-April in order to have completed all of the exercises by the time we are ready for our first insemination, I have no illusions that there won’t be hiccups along the way. There may be a super-busy week where I’m not able to do the exercises, or there may be a particular topic that I get stuck on and want to spend more than one week on. To that end, I’ve purposely built in some slippage, to give myself permission to be imperfect in this. It’s very important to me that my stress-reduction plan does not become just another stressor in my already hectic life. So don’t be surprised if you see multiple posts for the same week’s worth of exercises.