the no good, horrible, very bad week

Last week was Tim’s second big business trip. I wrote about my experience when Tim went on his last trip but I was feeling more confident this time. With a bit more experience under my belt, I was certain it would go more smoothly and I was fully prepared to handle a certain level of chaos.

I am a Capable Adult ™ now, after all.

Well.

Well, well, well.

First of all, his company sent him to Hawaii. Let’s just start there.

Hawaii. In January. That’s not a business trip, that’s a honeymoon. I thought I was jealous about Europe, but Hawaii in January is epic for a person who is used to snow, ice and below-freezing temperatures. Heck, anywhere warmer than fifty degrees is drool-worthy when compared to the alternative. It’s just plain wrong.

Once I got over my jealousy, we got down to the real work of finding ways to make this a little easier on me, the anti-single-parent. Tim made plans to have extra help around in the evenings in the form of Ellie’s two favorite sitters, he cooked and froze extra meals, and since I’m back at work I figured being at the office during the day would offer more than enough opportunities for adult social interaction to keep me sane.

With all those measures in place I thought, “What could go wrong?”

WTF?

Ugh. That’s a picture of me, looking at my pre-last-week self and thinking, “Self, sometimes you should just shut the fuck up.

The week before Tim left, my dad was admitted to the hospital. Nothing seriously life-threatening, but it’s rare for anyone in my family to have a “hospital-serious” illness, so that was concerning. Tim considered canceling his trip but we decided against it. We expected dad would be out in a few days, no worse for the wear, so no need for Tim to stay home.

The night before Tim left, the baby was inconsolable and refused to sleep for more than an hour at a stretch until about 3 a.m.–a rare occurrence for our Gwen. Tim’s flight left early so neither of us got much sleep, starting the week off with a bang–or more accurately, a snore.

The night Tim left, I backed our van into a lamp in the Target parking lot. I know I’m not the best driver, but I usually have the wherewithall to avoid hitting giant, well-lit inanimate objects. I’m blaming sleep deprivation. Thankfully the van itself was not harmed, save for a scratch, and everyone was fine… but I haven’t hit anything with my car since I was a teenager with a learning permit. Embarrassing much?

Monday passed without incident, and this is probably the only time in my life where I will rank a Monday as one of the best days of the week, because it was all downhill from there.

I woke up at 2:30 Tuesday morning to Ellie’s frantic sobbing. I ran to her room to find she’d vomited all over her bed. Her first stomach flu! Lovely! She continued to be sick throughout the day and I did my best to console her in between loads of laundry.

Oh, so much laundry.

That evening I remembered just how contagious the stomach flu can be… so instead of eating the lasagna I’d heated for dinner (one of the meals Tim graciously prepared before he left) I had a few bites of raspberry Jell-O and stuck the lasagna back in the fridge.

Good thing, because I spent most of Wednesday either in bed or the bathroom. I won’t go into the gory details; let’s just say the “I Can’t Keep Anything Down” Diet worked its magic and I lost over 10 pounds in 24 hours.

Ellie stayed home and watched episode after episode of Dora the Explorer, with the occasional break to play games on my iPad, and I tried to wake myself up once in a while to make sure she hadn’t strangled herself or burned the house down around us. I only caught her playing with a lighter once. Parenting WIN.

We even spread the love to one of our sitters, who had to cancel on Thursday and Saturday due to illness. Go Team Sick!

While all this was happening, my father had to be transferred to a local hospital for further tests–again, not super serious but not the quick in-and-out procedure we’d hoped for. More stress.

On Thursday morning I was feeling better but not 100%, so I stayed home from work. My mom (who stayed with us while my dad was in the hospital) offered to take the kids to school, and that’s when we realized I’d left one of the overhead lights on in our van for three days. The battery was dead and my mom had to call AAA for a jump.

Meanwhile, my darling husband is posting photos like this on Facebook:

Kailua Beach by Tim Moore

He has some nerve, but karma is a bitch. On Friday, his flight out of Hawaii was delayed due to mechanical failure. Apparently the plane was fully boarded and on the runway, ready to take off, before they noticed a problem (because that’s not scary at all!)

Tim called me from a hotel in Honolulu to let me know this–and then had to run to the bathroom mid-conversation to vomit. Apparently that stomach bug was strong enough to follow him across 48 states! After some fancy finagling with his flight schedule he arrived home on Sunday morning, only 17 hours later than planned. Given our luck, I’m just grateful his plane didn’t drop out of the sky.

Kids go wild

What do we do when Daddy isn't home? Play the "Stuff On My Baby" game, of course!

Thankfully things have settled down a bit since he got home. Life is mostly back to normal, with the exception of my dad still being in the hospital (he’s recovering from surgery and doing very well!)

As for the whole traveling thing, I was really hoping the third time would be the charm… unfortunately this was the worst trip of them all. To think, our family hadn’t even had so much as a bad cold since winter started–to get hit with the stomach bug from hell, on top of my dad being sick, on top of car issues and flight cancellations… gah!!!! When it rains, it pours.

What life lesson do I take away from this experience? I’m not quite sure. Part of me thinks chaining Tim to the house is the only viable solution, but he’s not having it (and I’m sure his employer would take issue with that). I could take the Positive Spin route and choose to forget the negative stuff entirely–after all, Tim got home safely, I lost ten pounds, everyone is still alive.

Eh, that’s not my style.

Instead, I’ll say this: Sometimes, no matter how well you plan or how positive you are, life is just plain crappy (literally and figuratively in this case) and the best thing you can do is put your head down and keep going. It sucks, but you’ll get through it because you have no choice.

And it’s going to take a lot of effort not to be an anxious wreck the next time Tim says the words “business trip.”

😃+

my favorite month

I think December will always be one of my favorite months. For one, Ellie was born on the 20th, and I will always remember that month in 2008 as one of anticipation, pure joy and utter chaos all at once–like being five years old on Christmas morning all over again.

But December is also the month we discovered Gwen would be joining us, which is a story I never told here because I was too busy hibernating for the first part of this year. Now is as good a time as any!

Last year at this time we were actively trying to get pregnant–something I never want to do again. Not that the process itself isn’t, uhh, fun, and not that the result isn’t worth the effort, but (in typical Caroline fashion) I can’t do something without getting obsessed and I’m the least patient person you’ll ever meet. I’m Miss “If I can’t do it right the first time I don’t want to do it at all.”

In other words: I may maintain an adult exterior but on the inside I’m still five years old.

So I’d spent the two months since I stopped taking birth control in typical obsessive fashion: Sobbing unattractively every time I peed on a stick. Buying pregnancy tests in bulk and taking them every day, even when I knew I’d get a negative result. Charting temperatures and tracking fertility signs (ladies, a litmus test: If you can utter the words “cervical mucus” and your guy or gal of choice doesn’t run screaming the other way, you’ve picked a good one.) Examining false positives under different light sources at a thousand different angles. Reading fertility message boards and learning the acronyms (TTC! DTD! BFP!) all the while convinced we’d never get pregnant, I’d never be able to have another baby, I’d have to go through all sorts of painful procedures and exams and on and on and on.

Let me reiterate:  All this over the course of two months. Two months. Some people go through this for years, and I don’t know how they do it because I’d have imploded with anxiety by month four.

I’ll also remind you that Ellie was a surprise. A big surprise. We weren’t preventing, but we also weren’t expecting anything to happen for a long time. I’d convinced myself over the course of the last two years that she was a miracle, and repeating that miracle would take nothing short of, well, another miracle.

Anyway, Christmas came around and I promised myself I’d have a nice time with family and try to forget about the pregnancy nonsense for a few days. Well, mostly. I was still taking tests obsessively but I was determined not to be mopey about it, and on that front I succeeded. We visited my parents, spoiled Ellie rotten for her birthday and all was well.

On Christmas Eve I got the stomach bug that had been circulating and spent most of the day in bed feeling feverish and trying not to puke. I took a pregnancy test just for the hell of it and thought maybe I’d seen the faintest of faint pink lines (if I held the test upside down while jumping around in a counterclockwise circle three and a half turns), but I’d been seeing false positives for weeks. In keeping with my “No Stressing on Christmas” mantra, I didn’t get my hopes up.

Ellie woke up at 3 a.m. on Christmas Day, refusing to sleep, wanting to cuddle. So in a bleary state of exhaustion I thought, “What the hell, I’m up” and decided to take another test. This time the faint pink line was not so faint… hmm. So I tried another brand of test (see the part about me being obsessive) and the second line was blatantly obvious. I did a happy dance in the bathroom, then crawled back into bed and tried (unsuccessfully) to sleep for the next three hours.

Before Tim woke up that morning, I put the test back in its foil sheath and wrapped it in green tissue paper. I stuck a bow on top and snuck downstairs before the rest of the family, placing the test in Tim’s stocking so it would be the first “gift” he opened–and when he did, his absolutely perplexed look was priceless. His first words to me were, “You mean… it’s over???? Thank god!!!”

Oh, no, my dear. It’s just beginning! Proof:

Guinevere

(Hard to believe someone so laid-back came from someone so insane, isn’t it?)

😃+

life… with two

sleepy babyGwen is 1 week old as of yesterday, and she’s a pretty mellow baby so far (knock on wood!) We wake her to eat and for the occasional diaper, but mostly she’s content to snooze in her co-sleeper or swing or in the wrap. It’s been nearly impossible to catch her with her eyes open (although I did manage it once.) I wonder if she’s saving her energy for a big showdown or if we’re just fortunate enough to have another one of those elusive “good sleepers.” Time will tell!

One thing that’s awesome: Not worrying about the little stuff. With Ellie we had to learn the basics–how to change a diaper, how to balance bottle and breastfeeding, how to swaddle, etc. What I’ve found the second time is, the routine comes naturally. I no longer ask myself, “Is this normal?” twenty-five times a day–maybe only three to five times a day. 🙂 Even the lack of sleep isn’t getting to me the same way it did the first time. The added confidence in my abilities makes this second-time-parent thing much easier!

I also feel more balanced, personally. I adore Gwen and take every opportunity to snuggle her (I’d forgotten just how perfect and teeny they are!) but I’m much less hesitant to put her down when I need time for me. I don’t have that frantic, intense “You’re killing the baby!” feeling when she cries. Not to say I’m not responsive, but I tend to her without a lot of unnecessary anxiety, and I think she’s calmer as a result. I’ve actually been eager to get back to work on my own projects, and have, if not with the same intensity. The creative distraction is good for me.

I’ve actually worried more about Ellie and her reaction to this transition in our family than I have about caring for Gwen. It’s so funny–when we brought Ellie home from the hospital, life was all about Ellie from that day forward. In bringing a second baby home, it’s still all about Ellie! Total first child syndrome there. But she’s reacted so much better than I’d hoped. There’s been a little acting out but nothing like what I’d feared. I have yet to see a jealous look or hear a jealous word. She’ll dote on “Baby Gwen” every chance she gets and has been so patient (as much as one can associate patience with a two-year-old) while mama and daddy adjust to juggling two.

More than once over the last week I’ve looked at Tim and said, “We make good kids.” And it’s true!

😃+