A bit about expecting

My husband and I started talking about having kids before we ever even got engaged.  I was twenty-eight when we started dating, and he was thirty.  We dated about a year and a half, and were engaged for eighteen months before getting married.  Our first anniversary was September 8th of last year, which means we’ve been together about four and a half years.  At the end of last summer, we decided it was finally time to start trying to get pregnant.  I think it took exactly three months.

On Thanksgiving I worked.  I always work on Thanksgiving, and the day after.  Such is the life in retail.  I got off at four, went home, and took a pregnancy test.  My period wasn’t late.  In fact, it was supposed to start the following day, on Black Friday.  But, I had a good feeling about this month.  You see, I had made a few arrangements to make sure that I would be with my husband (who was working in another state at the time) at the time of ovulation.  I traveled to where he was staying, we made love on his lunch break, then I got in the car and made the seven-hour drive home so that I could work the next day.  When I got home, I checked to see if I was ovulating.  And I was.  So I had a good feeling about this test.  And it was positive.

Chris, my husband, didn’t want to tell anyone right away.  That lasted about an hour.  Once we got to our friends’ house for dinner, he was spilling the beans.  So much for secrecy, but I love him anyway.  Our due date fell on his thirty-fifth birthday.

It would be three weeks before I would fly home to collect my kids and see my family, so I had to keep the news off of Facebook for twenty-three days.  Those were the longest twenty-three days ever.  I told a few co-workers and close friends, but warned everyone to keep it off of social media.  Chris called home and told his family.  He was quite stoked.  He has no children of his own, and my kids were a bit beyond the baby years when we met.

I had it planned out.  I bought my daughter a “Big Sister” shirt, and presented it to her when I got there.  My son was more excited about the news, but my daughter was thrilled when I told her she was going to get to tell everyone else.  So she told my mom, who cried.  Then she told my niece, and my sister, and my aunt, and my cousin, and so on, until she was blue in the face.  At the end of the evening, after a small family get-together, I posted a picture of the kids, and the new t-shirt announcing who would soon be a “big sister”, on Facebook.  Four days before Christmas, it was out there for the world to see.  Chris and I were expecting a baby.

I think it’s fair to say that all new parents are anxious until the first doctor appointment.  We saw my primary care doctor first for the formal test and to discuss my current medications.  I then set an appointment with an OB/GYN for December 30th.  It was on that day that we saw our little jelly bean and the beautiful little heartbeat.  Everything looked good.  But just over a week later, things started to look less hopeful.  Three weeks from the day we saw our child’s heartbeat, the doctors were scraping what was left of the placenta out of me.  Technically I would have been about eleven weeks along when we found out we had lost the baby.

I don’t think that devastated is the right word.  We were both a little crushed, and terribly disappointed.  But we did our best to stay positive, and have done well remaining that way.  There was no reason for it, nothing obvious anyway.  Everything seemed to be as it should have been.  There must have been something wrong, a defect that would have made an unhealthy child, and everyone hopes for a healthy baby.  So we have kept our chins up, so to speak.

But as the one solely responsible for providing the fetus with everything it needs to develop, the mother of a lost baby can’t help to think that she did something wrong.  Had I taken some medicine that I shouldn’t have?  Was it the cough drops that I was taking when I had that cold?  Was it because I wasn’t able to take my vitamins every day?  Or because I wasn’t already taking them before I knew I was pregnant.  I mean, we were trying to conceive, so why wasn’t I already taking them?  Should I really have listened when everyone (I mean everyone) at work told me to stop lifting?  Did I kill my baby?

But I am not one to linger on negativity.  If it wasn’t for being medically restricted from doing so, we would have been trying again in just a day or two.  It is unfortunate that the body takes so long to recover.  I think the worst part of all of this for me is the fact that my husband and I suffered a huge loss, and we can’t even comfort each other in intimacy.  I mean, it just sucks.

However, we must push forward.  I’m still not getting any younger.  That’s another cause of concern for me.  My oldest is almost twelve.  I’m no spring chicken, though at thirty-three, I’m just under the age where doctors would caution patients about age-related risks.  But how fine a line can you draw here?  Am I young enough the day before my thirty-fifth birthday, but too old the day after?  Then you have to consider my other health issues.  I’ve been on thyroid replacement therapy since I was eighteen.  Last summer, I found out I have fibromyalgia.  The funny thing about that is that I was pain free while I was pregnant.  Literally two days after the procedure that cleaned out my uterus, I had widespread joint pain again.  Pregnancy actually helped my fibro.  I can’t wait to get pregnant again.

My husband feels the same way.

One of the fun parts of baby-making (outside of the bedroom part), is timing.  Our unfinished pregnancy was supposed to come to an end in August, around the time of Chris’ birthday.  By the time we are allowed to start trying again, it’ll be nearly March, which will put a due date near Christmas.  No one wants a birthday close to Christmas.  I think that if we are going to plan our baby, we should spare the kid the agony of sharing a birthday with Christmas.  So that pushes the trying part back to April.  That’s sooo far away!  It makes me kind of hope that we can get knocked up in February as soon as it’s physically possible.  But we will see.

I was asked again today if I’m pregnant.  I guess the gossip mill at work needs a little grease.  Spreading the news of pregnancy is exciting and fun.  Breaking the news of pregnancy loss is sad and no fun at all.  People don’t like to talk about it, it seems like they don’t think it’s any fun either.  So that leaves newly un-expecting parents the dirty job of answering the usual questions, “How far along are you?” “Are you pregnant?” “So when are you due?” with the sad news.  I’d prefer it if everyone told everyone as soon as they could, behind my back where I couldn’t hear it.  If ever there was an appropriate time to do it, this would be it.  But alas, it isn’t so.  And so we push forward.

My husband is still talking about making arrangements for our next arrival, even though we don’t know when that arrival will occur.  He even mentioned, back before we conceived, that if we could not have one of our own, we could adopt.  He is a good man, and an amazing husband (even when he watches cartoons in bed on his iPad.)  He is perfect.  I love him.  I cannot wait to give him a baby.  And so we push on.

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A bit of a rant

Hi guys, it’s me.  I have had a few things on my mind, and seeing as how I’ve been looking for things to write about, and I just want the practice writing, I decided to do a little venting.  No one really needs to read it, but I had to write it.  I think I will do this a lot, actually, so I made a category for my rants.  Maybe getting these things off of my chest on here will help my personal relationships a little, in that my friends won’t get tired of listening to me complain so much.  I’m very out of practice in writing, so there is really little talent demonstrated, just a lot of opinions.  So, I guess, enjoy?

To the person driving around after sunset without your headlights on: Turn on your headlights.  You have a nice SUV, and the color is beautiful.  But in this light, you look just like asphalt and that makes you invisible.  You are an idiot.

To the customer that unfolds every shirt on the table and throws them back down: someone has to fold them all back up.  When you ask for help and the associate seems flustered and acts like they are too busy to help you, consider how much work you have created since you walked in and ask yourself if maybe you could have contributed to the worker’s frustration.

A note to shoppers everywhere: behave in a store the way you would behave in someone else’s home, or the way you would expect others to behave in your home.  If you knock it over, pick it up.  If you pick it up to look at it, put it back where you found it.  If you drop your tissue on the floor, pick it up.  If your kid pulls it down and rolls around in it, clean it up.  If you need help doing any of this, ask.  If you don’t think any of this sounds reasonable, work in retail for a year.  Appreciate the people who are there to help you.  If fewer customers were inconsiderate jerks, more retail associates would be perfectly pleasant and super helpful.  When taken for granted and treated like dirt, sales associates will reciprocate by not having the time or ability to help anyone.  They can’t even help it.

(This one is a little gross.)

To the grown woman (or women) that feel like it is necessary to smear (bodily substance) on the wall/door/toilet paper dispenser in the ladies room (specifically in the lounge bathroom where I work): what is wrong with you?  Did you run out of toilet paper and decide to clean up with your hand, and then follow up by wiping it all over the walls?  Did you accidentally get (substance) on your hand while cleaning up, and then forget that there is a whole roll of toilet paper available to clean your hand with?  Did you just get bored and decide to start finger painting with the first available medium?  Just stop, already!  I can understand having an accident, but come on.  Use the toilet paper!  I know it’s not a kid because you have to be 16 to work here, and it’s eye level for me, which would be impossible for a toddler.

(Another unsavory one.)

To the women who urinate all over the toilet seat/floor/your shoes (because how could you not get it on your shoes too): There is paper in the stall.  Wipe down the seat if it’s wet.  Cover the seat with a cover or toilet paper.  Hovering is not an effective technique for using the restroom.  Sit down.  If, for whatever reason your various neuroses require, you do happen to “sprinkle when you tinkle”, then for the love of all that’s sacred, please “be a sweetie, wipe the seatie”.  Again, there is a whole roll (sometimes two) available for cleaning up.  *Bonus tip: wiping the seat before sitting assures that you know there is paper before it is too late to turn back.  If someone came to your house and peed all over your floor, would you not prefer they wiped it up themselves instead of leaving it for you?  Behave that way in public.  Consider others.

To those who do not consider others: Consider others.

To those who enter through the exit, and the other way around: I wouldn’t really mind, but it drives my husband crazy.  If you have to go through the opposite door, do it quickly and to one side.  Don’t take up the whole doorway like you own it, because he will run you over with his cart, and I can’t stop him.  Traffic really does flow more efficiently when you use the appropriate door.  In stores, the exit is usually closest to the registers, with the entrance further.  This is so that those leaving do not interfere with those entering, and vice versa.  Trust me, once you’ve spent  an hour and a half shopping in a crowded department store, then spent fifteen minutes standing in line, and ten minutes waiting for a price check, you won’t want anyone getting between you and the door either.  Just consider others.  If it’s pouring rain, we’ll make an exception.

To the person who drives the opposite way down the aisle of the parking lot: You are an idiot.  Stop it.

To the girl in the break room: Turn off the music or get headphones, no one wants to listen to your gangster rap on their break.  Also, stop gossiping to your bestie on the phone, and swearing, and being extremely loud.  No one is amused.  We would like to have conversations also.  Keep it up, and I will talk to management about your language.  I’m passive aggressive like that.  Consider others.

To the girl that takes a billion “selfies” with and without your small child(ren) and posts them on Facebook daily: Please don’t.  It isn’t that I mind, but I think that you should spend more time enjoying your children.  Take up a hobby.  Blog.  Teach your kids a skill.  Bond.  Take up photography and learn to appreciate your surroundings.  Change the focus.  Take in the world, be part of the world.  Photograph your kids in creative ways, doing amazing things, exploring and learning.  Enrich your lives.  You’ll be glad you did.  In a few years, you’re going to wonder why you have so many pictures of nothing but your own face.

To people who leave animals out in the freezing cold/sweltering heat: Would you like it if it were you out there?  Well, your dog doesn’t.  And your dog really trusts you to take care of him.  And he loves you more than that and would never treat you that way.  Please stop.

To the kid walking down the street: When a car comes, move to the side of the road.  Better yet, just stay out of the middle of the road.

To the parents who let their kids do whatever they want: Stop it.  You are an idiot.  And you are teaching your kids to be idiots by example.  Set boundaries.  Set expectations.  Put your foot down.  You are the parent.  They want limits.  Trust me on this.  They’ll respect you more for it.  A child with boundaries, expectations and limits will not yell at their parents, call them names, or get into physical fights with them.  If your kids are doing these things, it is your fault, not theirs.  Get your act together.  Ask for help if you need to.

I think what this all boils down to is this: Consider others.  Ask for help if you need it.  No one is perfect, but if someone is struggling, most people would help if asked.  When you stop considering the needs and feelings of others, they do not feel appreciated and will treat you the way they are treated, like dirt.  No one is entitled to anything.  We all depend on the kindness of others.  Think about it.  Almost everything you have came from someone else.  You probably bought it, but there was always someone else involved.  Someone to create it, to build it, to sell it, to deliver it, to prepare it, to educate you on using it.  Show appreciation, be gracious, be enthusiastic in your dealings with others.  They are all doing their part so that you can have what you need.  Consider that the next time you have to return something that was defective.  It wasn’t the fault of the lady at the return counter.  She wants to help you, but she has to follow the policies put in place to protect her company from fraud.  There are millions of people out there trying to rip off retailers, and they have to protect themselves.  Save your receipts.  Accept an exchange if you have to.  Remember that we are all human and we all have a job to do.

Be kind.  Be considerate.  Be conscientious of the effects of your actions.  Be aware of what is going on around you.  (That one is for the person pushing the shopping cart in one direction while looking in another direction.  And the one taking up the whole aisle in a busy grocery store.)  Get off your phone.

Juju bits

Life at the mill wasn’t bad.  It was beginning to get a little cooler at night, but it wasn’t so hot during the day anymore.  Our mother would let us be most of the time now that we were learning more and more each day.  Some of the men that would come there most days started to bring some yummy food for us.  We didn’t like to eat while they were near, but they didn’t usually linger.  They would put down the dry food, usually right on the concrete, and then walk back to the building to sit and watch while we ate from a safe distance.  My sisters and I were fast enough to run if they came back, and there were lots of great hiding spaces where we could squeeze ourselves into and they could not.

Then our mother started to leave for longer during the day and stopped letting us nurse the way we always had.  We could occasionally hunt for ourselves, but we preferred the dry food brought by the men that worked at the mill.  Sometimes a woman would come, with some children, and they looked like they were having so much fun playing and chasing each other.  My sister usually wanted to play with them, but I cautioned her against it.  The people were so big, even the children, and who knows what might have happened if they got a hold of us.

One day, my gray sister was not there when I wanted to play with her.  I did not know where she went, or if she would come back, but I still had two other sisters to play with.  Soon, a man that had been bringing us food had captured one of my remaining sisters.  She was black and white, like my remaining sister, but had more white.  (My colors are more like our mother’s, brown stripes that help me blend into the shadows and hide.)  He wasn’t hurting her.  In fact, he talked very calmly to her and stroked her fur, even though he held onto her tightly.  I could tell she was scared, but she was very brave and did not cry or fight against him.  That was the last time I saw her.

That night, the woman came back, but instead of children, she came with another woman.  They brought food, but instead of leaving after they put it down, they sat down just a little ways away.  I didn’t want to go near them, but I was very hungry.  My mother watched but she did not approach the food.  I couldn’t help it.  My tummy was so empty.  I ate a little before the women tried to come closer, then I ran and hid in the shadows.  My sister was out hunting that night.  The next night, the man that usually fed us came out to play with us.  We liked playing with him.  He never tried to pick us up.  He would only put down food, sit real still, and brought toys that helped us learn to be better hunters.  We chased his toys and relaxed when he tried to pet us.  He was safe to be around and would never hurt us.  He had a soft voice and loved to play like we did.

But that night, everything changed.  After we played and ate for a while, he started to pet each of us.  Then he picked up my sister.  I didn’t really pay attention, because the food he brought was super tasty.  But when I looked again, I did not see my sister anymore, and the man was suddenly picking me up, too.  He put me into a small box, with a door that latched.  My sister was already in the box, and we were very frightened, but we were very brave and did not cry or fuss.  This man had never done us harm, and only good things had happened when he was around, so we waited to see what would happen to us.  We were not in the box for very long, though it seemed like forever.  Then the women returned.  The new one picked up the box and spoke very gently to us.  She smiled a lot and spoke to the man, and then we went home with her.

The car ride was a little scary.  Everything smelled new, and there were sounds we were not used to, but we only cried a little.  After a little while, we were taken out of the car and into a building.  The woman called this her house, and said that it was our new home.  She sat the box with the door on the floor for a few minutes while she ran around and moved things about.  Soon, she returned to open the door.  When she did, she only took out my sister and closed the door again, leaving me locked in.  She offered my sister some food, but my sister is very fast and found a great hiding space right away.  It took a long time for the woman to find her, and when she did, she collected both of us and put us in a small room.  In the room was a box of sand to play in, and bowls with food and water.  There was also a nice, big, soft cushion in the corner.  That is where she sat us down.

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Then, one at a time, she picked us up.  She would place each of us on her legs, turned on our backs, and rub our tummies.  When it was my turn, I did not squirm or cry.  I just looked at her, trying to read her intentions in her eyes.  She rubbed my body with her warm hands and pulled fleas out of my fur.  Then she would just stroke my ears and scratch just under my jaw, and it felt pretty good.  I wanted to relax and start purring, but I was still so scared.  I did not know where I was or if I would ever see my mother again, but since my sister was here with me, I was a little more comfortable with not knowing.

The next few days were weird and confusing.  The woman gave us both baths, which were nothing like the baths our mother would give us.  But after all the wetting and all the sudsy soap stuff, she wrapped us up in warm towels and gave us yummy treats.

We were still afraid to come near her, and so we mostly stayed in the small room.  I think during the day she would leave the house for many hours.  But when she came back, she would always come talk to us, even though we would run and hide, and she would find us and pet us again like that first night at our new “home”.  She started to bring us out of our room more and more.  She started doing the most peculiar thing, though.  Instead of putting food in our room, she would wait until she brought us out of the room, and put the food on the floor near her.  She sat down on the floor with us, just far enough that we were not afraid.  But each night at dinner time, the food would be closer to her.  She soon stopped locking us in the room so much, as we started to trust her more, she began to trust us, too.  It was not long before we would come to her in the evening as she sat in the floor, and wait for our food.

We finally started to trust her.  She gave us names, calling my sister Loki, and calling me Jubilee, or sometimes, Juju.  And there was a man who came to the house sometimes.  He was alright, but it took us a little longer to trust him.  Knowing that the woman was kind helped.  Eventually, we were all comfortable together, and after only a few days in the house with the people, Loki and I decided we were very safe, and finally, we started to purr when the people held us.  The people seemed delighted.  They even let us sleep in their bed with them.  This was great fun, as they would move their feet beneath the covers, and my sister and I could pounce on them like we were really hunting.  Our new mom put our little bed at the end of her big bed so we could be more comfortable.  It was not long before we learned to sleep at the bottom of the bed and not bother the people by trying to sleep near their heads where our purring would keep them awake.

One day, our mom took us to a place she called the “vet”.  It was a little scary riding in the car again, all cramped into the tiny box, which seemed to have gotten smaller since our first car ride in it.  The vet’s place was scary and exciting at the same time.  There were so many smells, like a hundred different animals had been there before.  We saw a dog and some other kittens, but they were shut up in a box just like we were.

The vet seemed okay, but she poked us a couple of times, and put some yucky tasting stuff in our mouths.  But it wasn’t as scary as we thought it would be, and we were soon back home with our people.

Our new man, our mom called him “daddy”, liked to play with us.  Mom preferred to pet us and take care of us like our real mother used to do.  But daddy bought us cool toys that we could chase and run after.  When we were all tired from playing, we would curl up on our people and sleep while they stroked our fur.

Loki said I was silly, but I told her that not only did I trust the people, I was starting to love them too.  Especially our new mom.  She was very special and knew just how to rub my tummy so that I would purr every time.  Loki took a little longer to warm up, but I realized that she liked Daddy better.  She probably loved him more because of how much he liked to play with us.  She always was the most playful of all my sisters.

Sometimes, the man and the woman from the mill would come and visit us.  He still called us our old names, Spots and Stripes.  They said that we were getting fat.  I didn’t know what fat was, but I knew I liked my new home.

It was more than a year ago since Mom brought us home from the mill.  We have had lots of other brothers and sisters since then.  Mom says they are “fosters”, and sometimes one will leave, sometimes more with come live with us.  But we are always the oldest because the new ones always come as kittens.  Sometimes we like to play with them, but mostly we try to stay away from them.  They can be pretty annoying.  Mom just laughs at us and gives us lots of kisses and rubs.  Today we have one other sister and a brother, and one foster brother.  The boys are both orange and like to play together (which keeps them out of our fur), and our new sister is the littlest, with gray and orange fur.  She follows Mom around the most, and is always crying when Mom leaves the room.

We don’t always get to sleep in the big bed anymore.  Sometimes we don’t want to because the younger cats are in there.  But that’s alright.  It’s always warm and cozy in the house, and there are plenty of great places to curl up or stretch out for a good nap.  There are even lots of windows to gaze out of, where we can watch the birds on the bird feeder, or the squirrels in the trees.  There are always a lot of toys to play with and sometimes a few bugs to chase.  Life at the mill was fun, but usually pretty scary.  Life here at our new home is pretty good.  We don’t always know when Mom will bring home more annoying babies, but most don’t stay long, and the ones that do eventually grow out of the irritating stage.

I asked Loki if she ever thought about the mill, or our mother.  She told me to shut up and bit my tail.  My new mom laughed and called us silly kitties.  I have to say that here, with our half-human-half-kitty family, life is pretty darn good.

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End of the week bits

So after an okay day at work, which was the end of an altogether horrific week on a personal level, and looking forward to a couple of days off, I left work ready for the weekend.  Okay, it was already Saturday, but since I would be off the following two days, it was just like Friday afternoon.

Before I could head for home, I had to pick up Kayn, our last foster cat, who was at an adoption event at the Petsmart.  I picked him up, packed him up, loaded him into the car and headed home in a near frenzy, ready to get home, take off my bra, and just let the world worry about itself for a few hours while I had some time away from it.

I have had my car for five weeks.  Maybe six.  I’m still getting used to it.  That said, I totally changed lanes and cut someone off, even though I looked over my shoulder, because my new car has a pretty sizable blind spot.

Sorry, dude.

So, I just drove really fast to be sure to stay out of his way after that.  My bad.  A few miles closer to home, driving down the center of three lanes, I was visited by Karma in the form of some bimbo in an SUV who thought it would be a good idea to pull out of the McDonald’s into, you guessed it, the center lane.  Lay on the horn, stand on the brake, hope that the cat doesn’t break his nose on the door of his carrier.  Where’d she get her license, out of a Cracker Jack box?

I’m finally home, where I can relax and cuddle with my loving husband, who dead-bolted the back door for some reason.  “Did I lock that? I’m sorry!”

Deep breath.  Don’t kill him, he’s on your side.  What? Why would I have a grocery bag?  Oh yeah, I was supposed to bring home some things for dinner.  Well, crap.  Back in the car, to the grocery store, hubby tagging along.  Why can’t I park? Why are there so many cars in the parking lot?  Why is this so stressful?  Shop, shop, shop, should we make that daiquiri mix?  Okay, we’ll get ice and stop at the liquor store.  Back in the parking lot.  These people are idiots.  Why am I still wearing a bra?  I hate driving today.  Liquor store?  No?  Well, fine then.  Home.  Bathtub.

Some people drink when they get stressed.  Some people might settle for some anti-anxiety medication (you can bet I have), some people (crazy people) might go running to relieve stress.  Some options are healthier than others.  I don’t want to settle for chemical relief.  That sounds like a short road to addiction.  And I never run with scissors (those last two words were unnecessary).  So I took a bath.  My husband was a little confused why I was running a bath less than thirty seconds after walking through the door.  I told him to come in or stay out, but shut the door, I’m taking a bath.  Then I took a bath.  Half an hour later, he came to check on me.  I think he missed me.  I lamented about how the tub drain doesn’t hold water, and the tub had lost half of my bath.  He said I should turn the water back on, so I did.  I really expected him to suggest I finish my bath, and I love him for allowing me to indulge.

He went to the liquor store.  The daiquiri mix has to sit in the freezer for four hours.  We’ll have it tomorrow.  I put some potatoes in the oven and chilled in the bedroom (because that’s where my phone charger is and I wanted to play on my phone, which was close to dying).  My husband loves me.  He made a daiquiri mix that had been chewed on by cats.  The bag is a little leaky, but it might be okay.  Maybe he should have kept some of that to himself, because I don’t want anything that has been chewed on by cats.  I love that man.

Deep breath.  He’s on my side . . . . and he’s cute.

Dinner was excellent.  The company was fabulous.  And being bra-less is phenomenal.  I’m glad this day ended this way.  All in all, today was a win.  Go Team Tracy.

Kitty Bits

In March of last year, I decided to take in a pregnant mama cat.  This situation was just supposed to be long enough for her to have her kittens, and until the kittens could be adopted out at six weeks old.  It turns out, she was pretty much in labor when I picked her up, and the next day we were at the vet for a c-section.  It was also my son’s 11th birthday (he was also born via c-section).  Mama cat, who was now Molly, had six teeny weeny kitties.  Within a few days, however, she was down to three teeny ones.  Two little orange boys and a gray and white girl.  We already had two cats of our own, about six months old at the time.  They did not like having another female in the house, but they coped well enough.  Molly, however, was a single-cat-house kind of cat.  And she stunk.  I think it was the type of food we gave her, and it took a couple of months to get her all balanced out, but in the meantime, she pooped and stunk constantly.  Someone gave her the unflattering nickname of “Shitty Kitty”, and she wore it well.

My husband, the big ole softy that he is, adopted the big orange kitten and named him Strawberry.  He is now 13 pounds and we call him Berry.  Four weeks later, we got a call from the girl at the vet’s office, the same girl that helped take care of Molly’s kittens in those first few days.  Someone had found three two-week-old kittens under their house and there was not a mother cat to be found.  We introduced Molly and all the kittens, and suddenly Molly was a proud mother of six again.  This lasted one week.  I had the very unfortunate folly of accidentally stepping on one of the newest kitties, a pretty little boy I had fallen for and was calling Rusty.  The doc did what she could to ease his pain, but the poor thing did not make it through the night.

His two sisters, Blue and Harley, however, thrived.  And this foster mom became a little over-the-top in all manner of kitty safety.  Once the kittens were all weaned and Molly was about done with all the other female cats hanging around the house, we found a new foster home for her.  So we were down to seven cats.  We soon adopted out Berry’s brother Peepers, and his sister, Lil Sister.  And for a while, we were down to five cats.

When my mother and the kids came for the summer, my mom took in a stray.  We called her Bright Eyes and had her spayed and got all her shots.  She lived in our garage for about four months before disappearing.  A little while after she showed up, we took in four more kittens.  Lola, Archie, Kayn, and Ribbit.  Ribbit was the first to get adopted, and then Lola.  And soon, Ribbit was returned, because the adopters obviously were not cat people.  That is the only reason I can fathom, as she is the sweetest cat in the world and now lives with us forever.

Unfortunately, Archie was hiding something from us.  On his little toe, I spied a little bald spot.  And so began our five-month battle with the all too infamous ringworm.  If you have never had to deal with ringworm on your pets, your kids, or yourself, count yourself very, very fortunate indeed.  Because ringworm is a scourge that is not easily conquered, as I was soon to discover.  As soon as Archie was cured, he was adopted to a lovely couple with a Great Dane.  I was going to keep Archie, but decided against it when all the stresses of fostering, working, going to school, and staying home alone while my husband was on the road, all mounted and I didn’t want any more.  As soon as it was possible, Blue and Harley went into a cage at the pet store and they are being adopted this week.

So now we have our original pair, Loki (female) and Jubilee, and our big boy, Berry, and our teeny princess, Ribbit.  Kayn is the only remaining foster.  Since he only recently regained his freedom from the quarantine room, he will be back out on the adoption market as early as this weekend.  I think the most cats I had at one time was eleven, but I have lost track.  Now we are down to five, and soon just our four.  I have no regrets fostering, but I think my next venture into fostering will have to wait until we have a bigger house, a fenced in yard, and maybe when I have finished school or can work from home.  At any rate, that’s my kitty story.

Lets start here

I’ve always been a writer.  I can remember writing a poem about a dog in the third grade that won some type of poetry contest, a story in fourth grade that took ordinary and made it extraordinary, and there were several more poems and short stories all through junior high, high school, and into my various college years.  Some won awards, some were shared in class, others were never seen by anyone else’s eyes but my own.  I had a passion for writing that I could not explain.  As I walked to school every day in the seventh grade, about a mile or so, I would narrate myself.  I didn’t just tell about what I was doing, stepping off of the curb and tossing my head back for a quick look over my shoulder, but also my motivations, as I crossed the street before passing the Catholic school, because quite frankly, it gave me the creeps.

But, as always seems to happen, life happens.  My writing outside of school couldn’t fill a single-subject spiral at this point, and that depresses the snot out of me.  So I have decided to put myself out there… Here.

I got a fancy journal for Christmas.  It might have been six years ago.  A while back… sixteen months ago… I got re-married.  I decided that I would use the journal to record all of the wonderful things about my marriage to, really, the most incredible (if sometimes irritating) man I have ever known.  So on our honeymoon, as we flew from Chicago to Dublin, I could not resist but to take out my journal and begin writing.  The words gushed out of me, through my pen and onto the paper in a way that they had not in so long.  But when writing something as it is happening, it is not easy (for me, anyway) to choose a tense.  As I wrote, I switched from past tense (as most things tend to be written) to present tense (because, duh, they were happening right then).

In my frustration and disgust at having obviously ruined the fancy journal by my inability to just pick a tense already, I never wrote in it again.  the end

Or it could have been the end.  A year later (a few months ago) my husband and I decided to start building a family (or adding on, as I already have two children from my first marriage).  So I decided that I would start writing about our journey together in creating life and raising our kids together.  But again, I could not bring myself to use the wretched, disgusting, filthy, ruined journal.  What if I wanted to give it to my child when he or she was old enough to appreciate it?  My future child, obviously a very intelligent one (ahem), would scoff at the poor use of form and deny any relation to me.  I couldn’t chance that!  So I put it off some more.  Then I was soon pregnant.

My third pregnancy was a little different than the first two.  First of all, the morning sickness was real this time.  And on top of that, this one started during cold and flu season.  Always the responsible one (no, really), I had already gotten my flu shot.  But the cold I got shortly before conception (I had to make it a point to not take any medicine while trying to conceive) lasted until, well, a couple of weeks ago.  But aside from the physical maladies, something magical was happening.  Call it hormones, call it going off my meds (heh), or call it divine intervention (though I wouldn’t), but my brain started going again, full speed, and faster than I ever remember it going before.  I wanted to write so badly I could feel it.

But I had a problem.  I had always written in notebooks before.  But I prefer writing on the computer for ease of editing.  Since I could not decide a medium for my writing, I continued to procrastinate.  I finally decided to get a special tablet, with a keyboard, that had a Word program on it, so that I could take it to work, fit it in my locker, and write as the mood struck.  All I had to do was wait for our tax return and I could get started! Yay me for making a decision!

But then something happened that I was not ready for.  Even with all my reading and studying on the subject of pregnancy (I read “What To Expect” twice per pregnancy, as well as others), nothing could prepare me for the loss of my husband’s would-be first child.

At nine weeks, the doctor did an ultrasound.  The heartbeat was good and nothing seemed out-of-place.  He measured the fetus and placed me right at six weeks, six days. … No.  That was not right.  I was charting my period, testing for ovulation, and planned the day of conception to a tee.  I knew exactly that day I had conceived and exactly what day I would be expected to deliver.  The doctor gave me some noncommittal assurances and was on his way.  After that, my husband and I made the next OB appointment at a much better, much larger, and much further-away hospital for four weeks later.

A little over a week later, I started to bleed.

I told myself it was nothing.  I had had some spotting with both of my previous pregnancies and had been fine.  But a nagging voice kept telling me I was too old now.  My health was not good enough.  Maybe there was something wrong with my husband’s health.  I waited a few days, put in a couple of calls to the nurse, and decided to wait it out.  It got worse.  When we finally made the trip to see the doctor, the heartbeat was gone.  I could see before the tech said anything, as the ultrasound picture was on the wall directly across from me.  So visible, so strong and noticeable just two weeks ago, the heart was now invisible.  There was my womb.  There was the little dumpling inside of it.  But nothing moved now.

Overall, my experience at the women’s health center in this hospital was amazing.  I had never had any medical experience where everyone was so compassionate and honestly concerned for our well-being.  My “procedure”, to complete the miscarriage, was scheduled for the following Monday.  (That’s today.  Or was early this morning.  Now it is bedtime as I sit in bed next to my husband and type.)

But next Monday was just a little too long, and what I so feared would happen began to happen one day sooner.  Sunday.  In the medical world they call it “tissue”.  You see the articles of pro-lifers putting down the use of this term as used in regard to abortion.  Tissue.  I began to pass tissue on Sunday.  I had started to cramp as the hubby and I ran errands earlier in the day.  By lunchtime I was in bed, stuffed full of Motrin with a hot pad on my achy tummy.  I had avoided … voiding … since I had gotten the news (Thursday).  I was afraid that having a bowel movement would cause other things to move along.  With all the cramping, it could not be avoided.  However, nothing out of the ordinary happened and I figured I was out of the woods, at least for a while longer.  I went back to bed, re-positioned my heating pad, and played games for a while.  After a while I went to the bathroom again and that is when it happened.  I sat down, began to pee, and whoosh came a lime-sized lump of “tissue”.  I had been keeping up on fetal size week-by-week as any good mother-to-be would have done.  I was absolutely positive that I knew exactly what had just slid so easily out of me.  Sooo…. I clamped my knees shut as tight as possible, screamed a little, and immediately flushed.

That crap freaked me the hell out.

I ran downstairs where my husband was on the couch.  He asked if I was okay, having heard my puny scream, and I jumped, practically into his lap, for comfort.  All I could say is that, “Something came out,” and proceeded to sit in silence, curled into a ball under his arm, as he held me and kissed the top of my head.  More tissue came later, but as the bleeding continued, we kept our appointment for the procedure.

Again, all the staff we encountered were amazing and they were all very sympathetic to our situation.  Of course they deal with dozens, or even hundreds of these cases a week, but to treat each family as though they matter just as much as any other is still a huge feat.  The surgery went smoothly, and was still necessary as all the tissue had not passed.  The nursing staff even seemed a tiny bit astounded at my informed questions.  Not only do I read the books, but spent five years working on the “clean” side of the medical field, so I know a bit about medicine.  After dazzling and charming the nurses, I got to see my hubby again.  Again, he is the most amazing man I have ever known and he was spectacular throughout the ordeal.  Wheelchair downstairs, car ride home, lunch, prescription, home.

The hardest time I have had throughout all of this was on Saturday night.  My first non-work-night since learning our baby’s fate, I let loose the waterworks on my poor, unsuspecting, but still very amazing husband.  I think the cramps had already begun and I knew what was coming.  I was terrified every time I went to the bathroom and appalled at the thought of the dreaded number-two.  I knew that I still carried a child inside of me, but that it was “unviable”.  This hurt as much as losing it in the first place–the idea that it wasn’t lost at all.  I knew exactly where it was, and was not very thrilled with the idea of finding it again.

Many of my friends have had these losses and I tried my best to sympathize.  I never believed that it would happen to me.  I’m an old pro by now.  I’ve got this.  But I guess I learned that I can’t control this.  This is something that has to happen in its own way, in its own time.  And we are staying positive.  We are talking about continuing to try.  We are making plans, and my baby registry still exists, waiting for a new due date and the addition of gender specifics.

And even though we have experienced a loss, and even through the pain, we still have each other.  We are so strong together now, as much as we have been in the four-and-a-half years since we have been together.  And look where it brought me.  Back to writing again, finally.

Here’s to moving forward.