Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself. And…

I’ve had seven surgeries in my lifetime.

1 Insertion of Tympanostomy tube (tubes in the ears)

1 Tonsilectomy and Adenoidectomy (removal of tonsils and adenoids)

3 Lithotripsies (blasting kidney stones into tiny pieces)

1 parathyroidectomy (removal of one parathyroid adenoma)

1 cesarean (Eleanor Kay’s impromptu arrival)

I’m scheduled to get all four of my wisdom teeth removed on Monday.  I’ve never been so scared in my entire life!  Honestly, I could care less about the actual procedure, the pain afterwards or the possibility of dry sockets.  I’d neglected to make an appointment with the Dental Surgeon for more than four years.  I blamed it on not being able to afford it (which, let’s be honest, is not all an excuse.. you know it costs over $1200 to get those suckers out!?), but after my last dental check-up, the Dentist convinced me that it was the right move.

I checked in at the appointment and was visibly nervous.  I marked the box “single” rather than married (no offence, Devin).  And I still wonder what the Surgeon was thinking while walking into the room as I was straightening certificates on his wall.  The nurse was training in a young, slender woman from South Central.  They were both annoying, which I’m sure that opinion had nothing to do with my mood.  I tried to be polite, but my bitch-face was (unintentionally) on the whole time.  I did NOT want to be there.  I tried to be funny to myself to keep my emotions turning into fire and fury (and I was positive that people were really missing out on my hilarity).  I pleaded with the surgeon, a jolly man who had beautiful teeth and that’s about it, not to give me anesthesia.  “Can’t you just pull ’em out and give me some super sweet  street drugs?”  He thought I was joking.  My fire and fury started.  “Okay, but I really DON’T want the anesthesia.”  He began trying to convince me that the pain following the surgery should be my focus.

I obviously have no memories of the tubes surgery as an infant and the only thing I remember about my tonsilectomy was my grandma bringing me a huge box of stuff including Titanic posters (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).  When I was 17 I had my first lithotripsy procedure.  My mom rushed me to the ER after experiencing intense pain in my lower back for countless hours throughout the day.  After a few hours, the on-call Doctor told my mom I had several kidney stones too large to pass.  Mama made the appointment, the surgery was scheduled for the following morning and I didn’t have an apprehensive bone in my body.  The surgery was successful, but it was taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R for me to wake up.  I remember the nurse telling my mom that I had slept three times the length of time they anticipated.

Fast forward to March 2011 when I had to get my second lithotripsy.  I vividly remember beginning to wake up.  I couldn’t open my eyes, but I could hear everything around me.  I was unable to move and my breathing tube was still in.  I heard the nurses talking about unrelated things while I began to panic, believing I couldn’t breathe.  Well, I could breathe, but I just thought I couldn’t.  I was paralyzed.  In my head I was screaming for someone to help me and as I desperately tried to open my eyes, tears streamed down my face.  I felt the woosh of the nurse walking past me.  She looked down, grabbed a tissue and wiped my face, “Ohhh, she’s crying.  It’s okay, Amanda.  You’re fine.”  No I’m not, you idiot!  I can’t breathe!  Can’t you see that?  How is there not an alarm going off?

I precisely remember thinking about Lucy and how I would never hear her giggle again.  My tears started flowing more rapidly as I reflected on all the things I wish I could say to her before I died.  The more I cried, the more coherent I became.  Though it was probably just a few moments, the terrible, awful, horrible feeling of death felt like it lasted forever.  I was finally able to open my eyes and I realized that this stupid surgery wouldn’t be fatal.

Maybe it’s ludicrous, I don’t know, but being fully aware of your surroundings while being paralyzed is just about (maybe minus childbirth) the WORST feeling I’ve ever experienced.  My following surgeries that required anesthesia were comparably traumatizing.  Lots of puking, taking WAY too long to awaken after sedation, believing I was headed to heaven… you get it.  Yuck.

So, you can see why I dread parting with these four little devils.  And if I’m crabby next week, you know why.

Wish me luck!

 

cheese Cheeeeeeeeeese!

xoxo

 

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Getting Out

Hilarious.  I was invited to see the movie Mom’s Night Out and whether you are a mom, dad or just a human being, you will love this movie.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but I laughed.  A LOT.  If you’re unfamiliar with the premise of the movie, it’s basically: Mom’s do it all.  Mom wants a night out and it ends up being a disaster.  We don’t always do it right and as it turns out, our worst critics become ourselves.

Back in December, Devin ran to the store to buy medicine for Lucy who’d been running a high fever.  We were all exhausted after being up with Eleanor a few times the previous night and awakened early that morning by sicky-Lucy.  I remembered I hadn’t scored a “matching jammies” shot so I grabbed both girls and flung them onto the recliner.  Understandably, they were not in a smile-for-mom state of mind.  Lucy started shouting, “No pictures! No selfies, Mom!”  I was nearly about to surrender when Lucy started making Nora laugh.  I backed up to get my shot, trying to get them both to look at the camera.  Lucy said, “Lucy kiss Nora!” and as she leaned over toward her cheek, I heard the LOUDEST wail in my entire life.  The kiss turned into a bite covering her entire right cheek…

Image  Well… I did get the shot.

Nora cried the “silent cry” which any mom knows is 200 times worse.  She waved her arms back and forth while tears were streaming down her face.  I threw Lucy in time-out and started washing the chomp mark on Nora’s chubby face.  It had already started to bruise and become swollen so I grabbed an ice pack and headed downstairs to get ibuprofen.  I came back upstairs to find Lucy had removed herself from the time-out spot, was standing on the bench near the table and was coloring on the walls with purple marker….

Image  Seriously… this all happened in 8 minutes.

No. Way.  This is not happening.  I DO NOT GET PAID ENOUGH FOR THIS.  As a matter of fact, I do not get paid at all.  Devin came home to two screaming babies while I was shouting, “They are yours! Take them away from me!  It is BEDTIME!”

I completely lost it.  People were getting hurt, walls were getting wrecked and I was about to have a break-down.  WHY CAN’T I CONTROL TWO SMALL HUMANS?! Why do I always fail?  Why isn’t being a mom always full of kisses, hugs and bragging about their 4.0 GPA?  I just wanted to be good at this!  I really thought that if I loved my kids enough, I would be AWESOME.

Months earlier I had experienced my first panic attack, had trouble sleeping, etc. among a bunch of other strange things.  I saw my doctor often, who still was uncertain why I was experiencing a list (literally, a list of 16 things) of “symptoms.”  In December she finally diagnosed me with Post-Partum Depression (which I obviously don’t love telling the world, but it’s relevant to the story).  I really really really doubted that could have been a problem.  I was NOT depressed.  I had a really good life, really good kids, a really good husband, a really good job and I feel really happy all the time.  Except when I wasn’t happy and if I wasn’t happy I was really really upset.  There was no middle.  After a month and a half of considering, I finally decided to take a small dose of medication.  Many of the things on my list had substantially lessened and after some time I began to feel as though I was finally above water, breathing seamlessly, feeling refreshed.

I picked the girls up from daycare and headed for a super quick stop at Wal-Mart.  I needed to get some eyeliner since I had completely run out that morning.  It would be a very quick run- maybe 5 minutes?  Lucy was absolutely irate as we got out of the car.  Nora would not stop crying no matter how many goofy noises I made.  I contemplated turning back to the car to spare the children, but I was out of eyeliner!  Priorities, people!  I walked in the door as the greeter said, “Wow, got your hands full!  You don’t have another hand for a third!”  I prayed I could come up with a witty remark, but all I could think of was, ‘Back of smug, little Wal-Mart man.  I got this.’  We were in and back to the car in six minutes.  I was completely exhausted and regretted the decision.  Lucy was still crying in the back while we drove home.  I looked in the rear-view mirror and busted into laughter.  Wow, that was NOT worth the eyeliner!  Lucy immediately stopped her sobbing and I saw her begin to smile.  “I love you too, Mom,” she spoke quietly.  Huh… how’d she know that’s EXACTLY what I was thinking 😉

I woke up another morning to the entire house a complete disaster.  If you looked closely enough, you could see milk and food stains on the wall beside Lucy’s seat at the dinner table.  Dust, I believed, was 1/4 inch high, toys were strewn about all over the floor and down the stairs.  Dirty diapers laid in a pile next to the garage door and there wasn’t an inch of counter space that wasn’t filled with trash.  As I got the girls up and dressed, I smiled.  Their morning giggles and kisses were no match to what I was feeling about the tornado in my house.  They have the most incredible way of turning my heart into pure mush.  An absolutely incomparable feeling!

But those little poops drive me crazy!  Eleanor loves the toilet and garbage can.  Lucy takes EVERYTHING away from her sister.  They yell the second I begin to make a phone call.  I can’t ever seem to keep Nora full.  I can’t ever monitor the sheets of toilet paper Lucy is using to wipe.  After driving back and forth from work, daycare and school, I’m going crazy.  None of my pinterest projects work.  I get mad at myself when I’d rather watch Dr Phil than play Little People.  I often feel super inadequate, but I’m learning.  Throw in a possible ASD diagnosis and I really have no clue what I’m doing.  I just know I fricken love them and I’d do whatever it took to even be decent at this.

My little monsters warm my soul and their chords of love lull me to sleep.  I dream of them while asleep, only think of them while I’m away and breathe in their sweetness while holding them close.  Their shrieks of laughter soothes to my soul and their pain makes my entire body ache.  They are my heart.  They are my existence.

Mom’s do it all.  We feel it all.  And it’s often times too much to feel.  We release it in anger, happiness and sometimes even in a psychotic raging storm.  We get out, free ourselves and come home to a sweet little girl shouting, “Mommy!” as you open the door.  The sweet hug encapsulates your body and as you breathe in the smell of poop and play-doh, you feel home again.  It feels perfect.

It’s good to get out.  Get away, get rejuvenated, feel free and start missing them like crazy.

Have a Mom’s Night Out.

Xoxo

 

Mother’s Day 2014

Image    Image

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

A  few weeks ago I took Lucy and Eleanor to the park near our house.  There was a very sweet little girl, about 4 or 5, who was there as well.  She was wearing a plaid beret and her green pea coat matched her bright eyes.  Her sitter watched from a distance while the girl dug in the sand with the handful of toys she brought along with her.  Lucy perched right next to her, grabbed a shovel and began to fill a bucket.

“Lucy… that’s not yours honey.  You need to ask first.”

The little girl smiled at Luc and said, “It’s okay.  She can play with me.”  I thanked her as continued to fill buckets, dump buckets and make “castles” together.  After a few minutes, they were chasing each other around the playground.  Down the slide, to the spring riders, back to the slides and eventually to their sand creations.  I watched them play, making sure Lucy was taking her turns with the toys.  The girl continued to offer each piece to Lucy, “Want this one? Or this one?”  I couldn’t help but adore this girl that was really PLAYING with Lucy.  I’m quite sure Lucy never said a real word to her other than “It’s a casssstle!!”  This girl was quite the chatterbox and was eager to tell Lucy all about other toys she had, what her room looked like and how she liked to build castles at the park.  Lucy just smiled and giggled at her.

I noticed that Lucy had taken one of the shovels the girl had been using, obviously without asking.  I apologized to the little girl and said, “Lucy, that’s her toy, remember.  You need to give it back.”  I could see a massive tantrum coming on so I told Lucy that we needed to get ready to go home.

“She can have the shovel.  It’s okay.  She’s my best friend.”

Cute, right? This girl was mega-adorable.  I thanked her again, but told her we needed to get going anyway.  Lucy begrudgingly got into the wagon, waved to the girl and said, “I want my friennnnnnd.”

Dang.  I wish I could make friends that easily.  Why is it so much harder for adults to create relationships?  Why can’t I just run into some pleasant chick at Target (complete with coupons and the Cartwheel app) and decide we’re going to be best friends? And why when we have GOOD friends, do we neglect our friendship?  I know for a fact I’ve gone over a month without a phone call to my bestie.  Yes, life gets in the way.  We both work. I have kids.  We eat supper at 5:15pm which seems absurdly early to her.

When Lucy had been enrolled in ECFE she gravitated toward two spunky little ones, Emerson and Emalyn.  After meeting their moms, Riley and Ann, I came home and told Devin that us three moms were going to be best friends.  “Well, don’t tell them that because they’ll think you’re a creeper,” he said.  Good point.  After more than a year of getting together for play-dates and a mom’s night out (once!), I would absolutely consider them two of my best friends.  And let me just say it…. I called it.

We create these towering walls and decide not to let others in.  We don’t make eye contact with people, make small talk or invite people to church, yoga class or MOP’s.  Well, some of you do and good for you!  That is how you make friends!  You actually have to be friendly.  You actually have to spend time together.

I used to walk into Kendra’s house if she was there or not.  I’d grab a Dr Pepper from the downstairs fridge and relax on the dark green couch.  I cleaned her room once waiting for her to return home from rehearsal.  I talked to her on the phone while peeing on the toilet.  Man, she’s a great friend to have!  Still is, but unfortunately she, along with other friends, lives so far away.  I can’t show up at their door and invite myself in.  Even with the lovely friends I’ve made here, between swimming, baseball and family time, without making plans weeks in advance to try and find a day/time that works, we don’t see each other!

When did getting to be an adult get so hard?  Dang.  At least I get to fill my nights with beautiful babies and a hubby that rocks.  😉

But, just so it’s clear… Kendra, Kayla, Katie, Cassandra… I’ll always make phone time for you.

And Justine, Riley and Ann… you can come over anytime, open a can of pop and relax on my couch.

 

I hope you make a new friend today 🙂

xoxo

 

038

First Time For Everything

Well, I survived… we survived.  Of course there’d be a tornado siren when I was home alone with the girls!  I’m not even scared of tornadoes- I love bad weather!  I mean, I don’t appreciate tornadoes ripping through small towns and tearing homes apart, but the intensity of a tornado- its power, its fury- is so interesting to me.

When Kristy and I were kids and there was bad weather, we hid underneath the stairs in the laundry room.  Beneath the stairs the walls were made of Styrofoam, which made it a FUN place to be stuck in.  We’d gather up our most precious lovlies, grab crayons, coloring books, flashlights and tons of pillows and blankets before heading downstairs.  By the time we settled into our little space, the sirens and warnings had usually expired, but Mom would let us play in there for a little while.  Until she found our carvings… it was impossible NOT to take pens, bobby pins and your fingernails to the Styrofoam!! What started out as little “K”s and “M”s ended up as white masterpieces!

I remember one hot, summer night when I questioned going to the basement after hearing the warnings on the radio (remember radios? My poor kids won’t have any idea what that is).  It wasn’t raining, windy and didn’t appear like any bad weather was about to emerge.  As Mom hurried us into our little cubby, I watched my Dad open the basement door and say, “Mand, see how the sky is that green color?” I had never seen anything like it… it was ugly and beautiful at the same time.  The sky looked so hushed and placid, it had an eerie calm.  Later, as Kristy and I played with our toys, I heard my mom yelling at my dad, “Jer! Shut that door! Get inside NOW!”  By then the house was shaking from the thunder and the hail had become so loud while it hit against the side of the house, we were shouting to one another.  That night, my dad told me he saw a tornado funnel across the lake from the basement door.  From then on I had a deep desire to really SEE a tornado.

Like I said before, I don’t love natural disaster that comes with any kind of death toll or building massacres, but to actually see a tornado ripping through a field… would have to be pretty amazing.

Anyway, so back today…

I watched it begin to rain from the sliding door, inhaling that incredible scent of rain and feeling the mist through the screen door.  Spring!  I’ve been waiting so long for a good, gloomy afternoon complete with thunder, lightning and rain.  The drizzle turned into a downpour and went back to a drizzle within an hour.  The sun was trying to peek her little head through the clouds when the girls decided to get up from nap.  I picked Nora up and her pajamas felt soggy.  Her diaper was still relatively dry and then I finally realized how humid it was in the house.  The air was thick and heavy and even with the cool wind blowing in from the windows, you could feel the mild dampness.

I went into my bedroom to put jeans on when the roaring sirens began.  “Ah, shit!” I whizzed through the house without pants on, trying to gather up all my little people.  “Okay Luc, get downstairs! We have to go play downstairs!” She screamed and cried, noticing the terror in my face.  I scooped her up in the right arm, lifted Nora with the left and began booting the dog in the behind down the stairs.  Lucy, through her tears said, “Mom, where’s pants?” Okay, seriously… I’m trying to save your life and you’re so full of judgement.  I ran back up the stairs, threw my pants down and grabbed some “mama-gear”. The girls were peacefully playing in the family room while I quivered without a plan… WHAT IS MY TORNADO PLAN!? I’m confident that we need to begin barricading ourselves in the bathroom with bottled water and blankets.  And snacks! Imagining the worst, I’m hoping Devin doesn’t have to come home to find all the canned goods, lighters and candles in the bathroom.  As I’m trembling to call him, I peer out the door…. it’s beautiful outside.  The sun is out, there’s people walking their dogs along the sidewalk and I still… have no pants on.

Well… it never got worse than that.  The sirens continued to hum for the next hour and Devin was home within 45 minutes.  And thankfully I had found a second to throw my pants on.

So it’s highly likely that I would overreact to possible rough weather after having children.  It’s amazing how you can dream of chasing storms and smile through the rain and suddenly when you become a mother you morph into a ferocious mama bear who would do anything to shield her cubs.  While her cubs burrow into her soft, fine fur, mama bear nuzzles into the nave of their necks.  She whispers love into their ears and snuggles them closer to her.  All the while mama bear has one eye always around the corner, scanning for a predator.  She watches and waits while they sleep sweetly in her arms ready to strike if any harm comes their way.

A mother’s instinct is the strongest feeling I’ve ever felt.  It may look irrational or bizarre, but I’ll do anything to keep my little cubs out of peril.  For those little cubs are my heart, my soul and my existence.

xoxo

 

Here is a photo of the tornado that was “near” us, thus beginning our first time tornado siren experience…

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Sorry For My Face

I got a hair cut 11 days ago and I am still unsure whether or not one side is shorter than the other.  Trust me, I’m not a “hair girl”.  I don’t sit in the mirror for hours on end straightening, curling, dying, braiding or fluffing my hair.  It is what it is.  Some say the curls are a blessing, some say a curse.  But since I donated my hair back in December, well… it just doesn’t always look right.

Image

 

So here are the steps to take in seeing if your hair was cut correctly:

1. Stare at it in the mirror

2. Turn your head from side to side

3. Call your haircuttin’ place to say you think you need to come back in

4. Don’t go in because you’re still too unsure and you don’t want to be laughed at

5. Decide that you should begin tilting your head one way more often since it’s more flattering to your double chin anyway

6. Stare at it in the mirror some more and maybe throw out a couple of swears or two

7. Ask friends and family, who will always politely tell you that “it looks great!” when in fact, you know they’re lying just to be nice

8. Deal with the uncertainty

9. Come up with excuses if people begin to notice.  “I’m parting my hair different” or “It’s a new asymmetrical style”.

10. Get your hair cut in 5 more weeks

 

xoxo

 

On Wednesdays We Wear Pink

Shockingly, I had never seen the movie Mean Girls.  Seems ridiculous, but at 17 I had no desire to see it.  I’ve used several clips from the movie for my church kids to illustrate bullying, popularity, etc. I’ve caught the beginning and end when channel surfing, but never viewed the full-length film in its entirety.  Before heading to bed Tuesday night, I noticed the movie starting… and I quickly got sucked in.

In the spirit of the 10th anniversary of the film, this is who I was 10 years ago:

  • I’m 17 years old and in 11th grade at Albany High School
  • Kendra is my best friend and we are practically inseparable.  We go to the mall almost every day after school to hang out at Target and the food court.  I pick her up on Sunday mornings to go to church.
  • I have a bubble gum pink and silver star basement bedroom complete with a love-seat couch and swing hanging from the ceiling.  Upon spray painting the silver stars in the bedroom, Kendra’s hands got covered in spray paint.  She looked like the tin man for weeks and I was pretty sure her body would be poisoned forever.
  •  I slightly dread going to family functions knowing quite well that I will be asked if I have a boyfriend and what my post graduation plans are.  The answer is always “No,” and “Not sure yet.”
  • I’m one of the only people in school that has a camera on my cell phone and I feel pretty awesome about it.  There are only 3 other people I know that have texting service.  I send 3-4 texts a week.
  • I work at Target and have to wear red shirts to work.  I hate red.
  • I sit in the lunchroom by Aaron, Bo, Kendra, Mincus and absolutely never ever eat the school food. I eat oyster crackers and peanut m&m’s during my classes instead.
  • I wear my hair up in curls everyday with a shoestring in place of a headband.
  • I know every word to the movies Mrs. Doubtfire, the Santa Claus, Wizard of Oz, Beauty and the Beast and Sister Act
  • I paid about $1.50-$1.80 per gallon of gas and drove a 2000 blue 2-door hyundai accent named Gus Dexter Boris-Boofer
  • This is how I sign my name:Image

 

The writers, producers and directors sure really knew what they were doing when creating Mean Girls.  “Girl World” is a real place where girls get sucked in, learn how to use their claws and attack.  They closely watch their prey and wait until the perfect time to pounce.  Sometimes it is fatal, but other times they create just enough pain to watch the prey suffer.  “Girl World” actually doesn’t ever go away, despite what I believed at 17.  People can still be hurtful, manipulative and deceitful even as adults.  Fortunately, as adults, we become much better judges of character.  We can choose to be around those who are positive influences by loving and supporting us.

If I hadn’t found those people in my life… well, who knows where I’d be today.  I wish I could go back in time and tell myself at 17 everything I know now.  I’d like to tell 17-year-old Mandy that being a mother is more rewarding than anything she’ll ever experience, that despite all the wrong she’s done, she’ll get everything she’s ever dreamed of (and didn’t know she ever desired- the husband, the house, the babies, the dog…).  And I’d love to tell myself that the people you choose to surround yourself really REALLY makes a difference.  The way you treat people really REALLY makes a difference.  And the memories you make with those you love are really REALLY important.

Until next time…xoxo