The first step is to penetrate the clouds of deceit and distortion and learn the truth about the world,
then to organize and act to change it. That's never been impossible and never been easy. ~Noam Chomsky

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I heart daycare, I feel like a hypocrite, and our failing health

It's been too long since I've written about the little stuff. The stuff that seems small but makes life tick.

Daycare Update:

I really love it. I so so so love Ariam's daycare. Moving her was a really good choice, even though it means we have less cash each month.

I admire mothers who stay home. Those SAHM (never knew what that stood for until I became a parent and started reading parenting forums!) who homeschool, and cook amazing meals each night, and keep the house sparkling, and who manage to love on and teach and nurture their children every minute of the day are unbelievable. My heroes.

It's just not me though. This whole stay at home mom thing. I had some daydreams about being a SAHM before Ariam came home. You know, we would just be clean and pretty all day together. The fridge would always replenish itself with carrot sticks and organic milk. We would frolic in green meadows while memorizing the periodic table and playing with each other's hair. There may have been derndle dresses, a guitar, and frocks I sewed by hand from green flowered curtains in said daydream.

Then the daydream turned into a nightmare last summer and fall when I realized that I could not maintain a meaningful career, cook healthy meals, keep up with the laundry, and nurture my clingy toddler. Successfully. In one day. (Let alone run errands, go to doctor's appointments, load the dishwasher, and  handle conference calls from the car.)

Then we found the dream daycare (preceeded by the not so great, average daycare) and ever since I have been able to breathe again.

Not all daycares are the same. And we couldn't afford this one full-time. So I'm not saying that everyone should run out and enroll their toddler in the nearest daycare.

But this one really does meet our needs. This is how I know:

1. Ariam gets excited on "school" mornings. She bounces, she carries her shoes around, and she points at her jacket and screams "CHAK et!!"
2. When asked if she wants to go to school Ariam responds with the sign for "Friends" and says "YAY!"
3. When we get to daycare she knows the routine - how to peek in the front door until it unlocks, which door is hers, where to hang her coat. She doesn't cry or cling anymore.
4. A kiss and then she's off! But when we pick her up at the end of the day she gives a lot of hugs and smiles and is ready to go.
5. Since starting daycare Ariam is gentler, she does like to use the word "mine" a little too often, but she knows how to share. She can take turns. She's more communicative. And after a day at daycare she's nice and tired. In a good way.

The daycare is bright, colorful, clean and full of fun activities. The two workers are consistent and always greet Ariam with hugs and smiles. It is just a good place. I'm so happy and in love with it. We have decided to move her up from 2 days/week to 3 days/week. (More on this later.)

Now, on to feeling like a hypocrite:

Last year I made a bit of a fuss about transracial families who put their children in monkey costumes for Halloween. It just felt....wrong. Too much history there/monkey being used as a term to demean, belittle and hurt for too long to make it all ok and easy now.

I have had a really cute onesie folded up in the drawer for a few months.
Last week I put it on under a sweater and when I picked up Ariam from daycare she had the sweater off and just the onesie showing.
It's a lovely onesie. Puffed sleeved. Two toned aubergine color.
Just one thing. It has a monkey hanging from a tree branch plastered right on the front.

And here is what I've decided.
I don't care. The onesie is cute. I like the color on her. And she doesn't wear monkey themed apparel in general. So there. I've decided that in our city, where we never get strange looks as a trans-racial family, a monkey here and there is just fine.

Now, in other cities, like Washington, DC, I wouldn't even go there. When we traveled in DC in September we got stares from African Americans city wide. I don't think I'd like to open myself up to monkey-themed criticism on top of being a conspicuous family. But here, in our neighborhood, at daycare, oh well. A monkey onesie is not going to hurt anyone. Yep, I feel like a hypocrite. I am outing myself and saying that maybe the November monkey post was a bit over the top.

Finally, a health update. Which will lead into my next post about healthy adoption:

J tore a ligament in his knee on New Year's day. He lay in bed for a week. I was VERY jealous.
He had surgery. I wasn't so jealous.
He is now recovered.
I'm planning on tearing something next.

Cassidy has lung cancer. As you all know.

I have been sick off and on for two months with a recurrent fever, lots of phlegm, and huge amounts of lethargy. Yesterday the doctor finally prounced me medically ill enough to receive drugs.

Ariam's head is "too big." According to medical science. So she has to have an MRI next week.
I personally feel she is just fine and I would know if something were wrong.
She's just very smart. And big headed. And her curls are hard to squish down when they  measure.
Fine, whatever, it's 50 cm and growing. It isn't even on the charts it's so big.
But we'll take the MRI and prove that there is simply a great big brain in there and maybe the doctors will stop bothering us.

End of the updates.
Next post will be on something I've been thinking about for a long time. Healthy adoption/special needs adoption.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Just don't tell her."

That's what the vet. oncologist said to me after she gave a prognosis of 1-2 months this morning. After she showed me the x-ray of Cassidy's chest. The tumor taking up all of her left lung and pushing up her heart.

I sat at the vet hospital this morning rubbing her shoulders and fighting back tears while we waited to be seen. Well meaning receptionists kept petting her and commenting on how young she looks. One tried to convince me that it's not too late to microchip her. It is. It really is too late.

I had to bite my lip until it bled. I had to think of shark week on animal planet. Anything horrifying or pain/anger inducing to overpower the sad just to get me from waiting room to private exam room.

I'd like to not tell her. But she already knows. I think my sobbing and clinging to her neck while wiping snot on her long curly ear might have given it away today. We drove home in doggie/human silence. I attempted to make a few "it will be ok" promises but she had very doubtful eyes coupled with low hanging ears. She knows.

1-2 months is far short of my hopeful self-prognosis of 4-6 months. 1-2 months passes in a blink of an eye in our household.

I read somewhere online that it helps to tell your dog her life story, chapter by chapter, before the end.
Her life story is our first 13 years as a couple.
I am having trouble getting past the part where I tell her about the sunny summer evening and her bounding leaps across the yard to meet us. So I think I'll write the story. It's more for me anyway. I might post pieces here. We'll see.

Thank you for all of the kind and loving comments. Knowing there are many people who care or who have gone through the same thing helps. It really does. The first thing I did when I got home today (after feeding Cassidy large quantities of happy-inducing peanut butter and drugs) was log on to read comments.


Friday, January 14, 2011

We are losing our first love

How to say what I have to say?

It is nearing the time when we have to say goodbye to our first baby, Cassidy.

I can look back and see some of the signs now, in hindsight.
In August we took her on an easy hike. Before we even got started I had to go back to the car for something. She clawed her way up into the front seat and didn't want to come back out.

We took her to the Platte this fall, on a warm day, to paddle in the shallow areas. She stepped in, stumbled a bit, and looked to us to see if she (our water dog) could get out and sit quietly by the side of the river.

She growled at Ariam this fall when she came too close to her dog bed.

I've been finding little last bites of food uneaten in her dog dish.

Over Christmas she began to gag and cough. It didn't go away. I pretended she had a cold and was clearing her throat while quietly googling and denying.

This is Cassidy. This is our special girl.

Yesterday the vet confirmed that she has a large tumor growing in her chest and pressing on her bronchii. Thus the coughing/gagging.

I feel like we are stepping off the road of happiness and onto this awful little detour. We know where it will take us but not quite when we'll get there or how to navigate the way.

I am waffling between grief and denial.
Cassidy's bed is moving into our room. Dinners are being served with sides of homecooked goodies. Jeremy, the vegetarian, bought her a Wen.dy's double stack burger yesterday.

A future life without Cassidy. I can't imagine it. She's been quieter and quieter but she's still a huge presence in our lives and whenever I need to feel young or need a reminder of our best days I just put my arm around her and it all comes rushing back. Where will I find that? Where will she go? Where will our memories be?

I'm choking on the pit in my stomach. The knowing. The not knowing. It is terrible. When she is gone she will take a part of me with her.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Rocky Relationship

The blog and I have been through a rough patch. We haven't been speaking this week.

I've been trying hard not to think about it, while of course it worms it's way into my mind at all times of day and night.

I've wrestled with the 'call of the blog' all week and come to the conclusion that Watershed blog and I are in a complicated relationship.

I expect to come to it with all of my thoughts and feelings, from the mundane "hey, blog, I think I should potty train Ariam this month-your thoughts?" to the complex "hey, blog, what does healthy infant adoption mean anyway? And why is the word healthy pushing all of my buttons these days?" From the intimate " find myself getting teary at random emails and comments more than I'd like" to the public "Genna celebration next weekend!"

So, I expect to bring these issues to the blog and in return the blog will support me, back me up, support comments, and cooperate when I hit publish.

But my blog broke up with me last month. We'd been together over a year and a half! Suddenly it pulled away. First it was my left column of slaved over photos and widgets. Then it reorganized my owl on a tree limb cartoon at the bottom. Then it hit below the belt - it stopped accepting comments!! COMMENTS! The lifeblood of the blog relationship.

Watershed blog and I broke up. It took a lot of work to restore, what is really a shell, of our former relationship. We're back together, but it is very tentative. I feel reserved. I feel like I could be betrayed again at any moment. I don't know if I am just wasting my time with this relationship and therefore I can't create new widgets, or export my old archive. We've lost our former friends. I sometimes feel like we're getting sideways glances. My guess is that we've been removed from blogrolls - nobody believes we will last!


PS. Ok, on serious note, if you were one of my previous followers and still read here on the new blog site could you just hit follow and start commenting again? I even allow anonymous comments again (please just keep them nice or sign or your name.) I miss you guys! I promise to start writing again. I *may* even add more to the left column if we can make it to February.