Thursday, January 22, 2015

2 under 1: Remembering to put on a bra is good enough for now

Hi there.

For the last month I have written so many posts in my head during middle of the night feedings, only to have them erased when I wake up in the morning. Actually it feels like every thought in my head meets the same fate these days.

I am trying, man. I am trying. But this is no fun at all. On the outside, it might look great now and then. The boys are beautiful, and sweet. The photo ops are plentiful. But there are a lot of issues here, and as we struggling to figure it all out, and find the boys the help they will need to navigate the world around them, it is exhausting.

It's not just the fatigue.

It's trying to get the babies to sleep - maybe even at the same time. Maybe even somewhere other than my arms.

It's figuring out why they are crying when you are woken out of a dead sleep, and resolving the issue before the cry escalates to a blood-curdling shriek and they wake up the entire house. Usually we hit shriek status almost immediately, so as a result it sounds like I am living with a herd of howler monkeys. Especially at 4am for some reason.

It's remembering to bathe on a regular basis. Or maybe just get my hair wet and comb it.

It's holding back the tears when I finally do take a shower, and then instantly find myself covered in barf - or worse - while I am still wrapped in a towel and trying to brush my teeth.

It's learning to live with the screaming and crying and reminding myself that they are safe and loved, and that I can't do more then I am doing. That sometimes they will have to wait, or sit in a playpen for a few minutes while I, oh I don't know, poop. Alone.

It's doing everything with one hand. Everything.

It's coming to terms with leaving your grocery cart at customer service and apologizing for having to leave in the middle of shopping because someone's diaper leaked and someone else is hungry even though they were changed and fed before we went in.

It's taking the time to make sure they eat before they go to visit their mom, because chances are they won't get more than a bottle of formula while they are there.

It's celebrating when I get everyone in the car and actually drive away from the house on the first try.

It's feeling proud of myself when I leave the house in clean clothes and a bra.

It's the sense of accomplishment when I get the kids where they need to be when they need to be there, or when I both remember I have an appointment and actually get there on time.

It's washing AND drying the laundry, and then actually putting it away. It might not be folded, but it's not on my sofa.

It's realizing that I might actually need a minivan, and then finding a way to avoid driving one after all.

It's having a community that understands that when I get a new case, I have to clear my calendar for a while, and not making me feel terrible when I don't show up.

It's admitting I need help, and having friends and family show up to save my ass, cover me at work, or just sit and hold the baby so I can take a nap.

None of this comes natural. None of this is easy or fun. But it is keeping me sane. And saving my marriage. And giving my kids a mom who can still function most of the time.

Not all of the time. But it's good enough for now.

It has to be.

This is all I've got.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

I could have said no.

I could have said no. I know this.

Ella was asleep in the backseat as I drove her resolutely to her grandmother.

I knew she was going to be gone all weekend.
I was preparing myself for her to be gone forever.
I hoped we might get one more night with her before the final transfer.
And then my phone rang.

He had a baby for me. For Christmas. Two babies, actually. My heart leapt in my chest.

There were a few minutes of discussion, mostly about the logistics. Where, when, how.... but never an "if".

I said yes. Anyone who knows me just went right ahead and added an "of course" to the end of that sentence.

I said yes, and then I said I had to check with Sam. Which I did, just to be clear. I did call Sam.

And then I called them back and said yes again. And then I went to work like it was just an ordinary day.

When I finished my shift I went to pick up the boys. We call them that, these days. "The Boys".
They were waiting for me in a windowless playroom, a paper shopping bag with their belongings sat precariously on top of the play kitchen. There were a few shirts for each boy, a few pairs of shorts for the older one. Some diapers. A small pack of wipes. 2 empty bottles. No shoes or socks. No food. No milk. While I had been shuttling plates full of food out of a hot kitchen, they had been sitting in a series of over-airconditioned rooms, hungry. They hadn't eaten in hours, either one of them. I rubbed at the guacamole smear on my apron guiltily.

The cherub with a head full of ringlets was toddling around the room, picking up each toy he encountered, putting it in his mouth, putting it back down, moving on. Across the room, a tiny wizened face looked up at me from the social worker's arms, mouth puckered, eyes confused and distant.

I went down to my car and retrieved a bottle of ready-made formula from the diaper bag. First things first. Feed the boys. I stood in the public bathroom in the hallway outside the office rinsing and rinsing and rinsing those two empty bottles from their paper shopping bag. Scrubbing them as though I could somehow erase the hours of hunger.

I drove home with two carseats jammed in the backseat of my compact car. I stopped for formula along the way. I had an hour until the Winter Break potluck at school. I was still in my uniform. The Boys were asleep in their carseats. I had a wedding to officiate at sunset.

I didn't think of Ella at all in those first frantic hours. And then, after everyone was bathed and asleep, she was all I could think about. I walked in and out of the nursery, the cherub sleeping in Ella's bed. I had taken out her stuffed pig when he lay down, and handed him a stuffed elephant instead. I couldn't bear to see him cuddling her Petunia Pig.

Now I stood in the doorway holding Petunia, staring at this new baby in her place. I turned, and watched the newborn squirm and then fart, immediately stretching and then settling into the corner of his bassinet with a contented sigh, his mouth slightly agape. I smiled without thinking. Sweet baby boy.

It is a blessing for all of us, I kept telling myself. Ella is with her family. The boys are safe with me. My arms will not ache with emptiness this weekend. There will be no empty crib and carseat to carefully pack away.

Not yet.

I could have said no. Of course I could have.
But I said yes. Of course I said yes.