30 June 2011

This Summer's Questions

How are we going to get all of our belongings back down?
Option 1: We shipped up (via usps) 5 boxes in total, costing us about $130. Matt also drove up a very packed car. I estimate that we'll need an additional 3 boxes just to fit the additional clothes, books, and baby items we've accumulated this summer. Plus we'll need more boxes to ship up stuff that was in the car originally, but will no longer fit. Then there are the big-ticket items to worry about like the stroller, the pack n' play, and the swing. Those aren't going to fit and ship nicely.

Option 2: Have someone drive down with us with a load in their car. This is the most expensive option once you take into account gas, hotels, and food both ways, and that's assuming the driver doesn't have to take time off work.

Option 3: buy a hitch and rent a uHaul trailer. uHaul.com claims that our little Focus should be able to tow a 4x8 foot trailer.

Option #1 is the cheapest (we think), but we like Option #3 the best. Oi, I hate spending money when we have no solid income!

Getting a Place to Live
Before we left Florida, we toured a couple of apartments and selected our top two. We have maps of the complexes, so we know which buildings are which. This week, I am going to contact those complexes to see if they have anything opening up in August. We'll sign the lease from afar (sight kind-of unseen) and fax it back. Matt wants to write in some sort of clause that allows us to back-out if we don't like what we see, but I am not sure they will agree. Maybe if we forfeit our deposit or something, but I doubt even then. At least this way we'll be able to move in straight away. We can pick up our air mattress from storage if we arrive without enough time for the movers to get to work that evening.

Yup, we're hiring movers to move us back in. I won't have the strength to be much help, and I doubt it'd be very feasible with a 2 month old anyway. Plus moving in in August in Florida is horrific beyond words. Movers aren't that expensive and totally worth it (in certain situations), in my opinion.

Once we get back down, I'll need to find a new pediatrician, establish care with her new cardiologist (who will probably be 2 hours away), get her Early On programs started up, contact the Florida version of the social security office to get her government aid set up (which gets us into Medicaid to cover the medical expenses that our private insurance doesn't cover). Once I get us all unpacked, I'll need to drum up some new freelance business to get us back in financial order. Plus Matt may be able to continue working for the judge (helping him with his book), which will also be a nice little income stream, as anything at this point is helpful.

So...that should get us through til the fall, at which point we'll settle back down to our usual law school selves. I can't believe how different this summer is turning out from what we expected. It makes me wonder what the future will be like, and how different from what we are planning.

28 June 2011

Half-way Point

We have a little over one month left until the end of the summer, so Matt has been reviewing his to-do list, trying to nail down specific goals and sort them into two categories: tasks to accomplish before surgery and ones that can wait until after. We won't have too much time afterward, but Matt isn't planning to spend the night at the hospital after the first weekend, so he'll have some more time. I am planning to spend the night every night that she is there. The hospital has a 30 room hotel built until the Children's Hospital, which is where I will stay until they transfer her to a room with a pull-out bed, which ideally will happen 1-4 days after surgery. Since just about the only thing I'll accomplish in the hospital is crocheting by her bedside, I am rushing to finish all my to-dos now. We need a place to live in Florida, a way to get all of our belongings down there, pre-pay the bills, and a few other random to-dos. I want the only things I have to worry about after her surgery to be packing and organizing paperwork to transfer care.

Surgery is in just two short weeks, so Matt and I are also trying to do some fun family things before as well. One of our weekends cleared up and I am hoping that we'll be able to take an easy stroll through a state park. I had some complications with my incision that is putting me back a bit, but hopefully I'll be well enough to go.

I am starting to realize all the additional stresses that go along with being a rising 3L, like, is he going to find a job? Where will we live if he doesn't get one lined up before graduation? How are we going to move 1300 miles again? (logistically and financially) Where are we going to put all of our stuff if we end up crashing with family? These are the questions we are going to be dealing with come fall. Oi! Maybe in the interest of de-stressing, I should stick to worrying about this summer's questions!

26 June 2011

How to be a better Law School Wife

Don't stress. At least, that's what the priest at confession told me yesterday. Seriously, part of my penance is to chill. In his strong Indian accent, he told me I need to be less tense. I need to be "normal." He asked me what I could do to help her prepare for surgery (help her gain weight!) then in his cute non-native speaker way, he informed me that the baby can pick up on my stress, so when I am angry or sad in my heart, she can feel it. She can't thrive and gain weight if she is distressed. Also, my tenseness makes my husband tense too. The secret to happiness is not in stressing my whole family out, I was informed. So yes, in order to be a better law school wife, I need to pray, read the Psalms, and de-stress.

I'm guessing it's not a good thing when even my parish priest can tell I'm stressed out.

22 June 2011

Baby Heart Saga - Surgery

These are some excerpts from the email that I am sending out later today. I thought ya'll might be interested since you've followed along with me in my life for so long. If I know you personally, feel free to send me your email and I will include you in the "Abigail Health Updates" email chain. Since I will disclose more information in those emails, I unfortunately can't include people with whom I am not personally acquainted. But don't worry, versions will continue to be posted here.


As you may have heard by now, our daughter, Abigail, was born with a few additional health challenges, including several heart defects and Down syndrome. One of her heart defects requires open-heart surgery. Surgery has official been scheduled for Thursday 14 July with recovery expected to take anywhere between 7-14 days, depending on how well she recuperates. The hospital of choice is #3 in the nation in heart care and heart surgery. Her cardiologists have assured us that the surgery is a very practiced one for their surgeons and has an impeccable success rate. Abigail may require follow-up surgeries in the future, subject to how well the patch stays in place as her heart grows, but will not necessarily be required, as previously thought.

Matt and I have created a special Twitter page for Abigail on which we will post updates throughout the surgery and recovery process. This method of disseminating information will allow everyone who is interested to receive updates, but still gives us enough emotional space during this difficult time. Her Twitter page can be found at Twitter.com/AbigailsHealth. We will also be sending out periodic emails with more particulars, but will be subject to our level of exhaustion.

We will still be moving down to Florida in August for Matt to complete his final year of law school. We tentatively have scheduled to begin driving down during the second week of August, but that, of course, is subject to change depending on how Abigail is doing.

We appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers thus far in our journey and ask that they not cease as we enter the climax of our saga.

16 June 2011

Law School Away From Home

Nothing like Matt being gone all day and busy all night to remind me that we're not really home for the summer. We've only been at this for a week, but the schedule thus far is that he works during the day, has a long commute home, then attends events to network, emails profs for letters of recommendation, applies for jobs, etc. He pretty much either comes home and leaves or comes home and sits on the computer. I can interrupt him, of course, but then I usually feel guilty for preventing him from working. Sometimes I can snag an hour from him, like yesterday when we watched the end of the Stanley Cup finals, I even got to paint my nails! But overall, this summer is wwwaaayyy different from last summer. Now he needs to do all this prep work to find a job. Remember that list we created at the end of last semester? Here's a little update:

-The van lines refuse to call Matt back. It kind of doesn't matter because the judge is constantly letting Matt out early or come in late, so he would spend a lot of time at the courthouse just waiting for the van service.
-He is networking. I know he has started the job hunting process (lots of databases to register for), but I don't believe he's gotten too far. However, it is still mid-June, so there is still plenty of time.
-He hasn't done much prep work for the student organization he's in charge of. I think, however, that if he just dedicated two or three nights to it, then he could finish the entire summer's worth of work. So there is also still plenty of time for that.
-In terms of the personal life summer goals, we have definitely not gone walking at any state parks. I wasn't planning to have a c-section, so I wasn't planning so much recovery time. I can pretty much only handle flat, paved surfaces right now. I do go for a 1 hour walk around the nearby subdivisions during the day, then I try to take a 20 minute walk with Matt in the evenings, but we've only been successful once. As of right now, at least one day of every weekend from now until we leave is booked with something, except for the weekend before the 4th of July. So I have my reservations about us hitting up the local state parks.

It is amazing how quickly life plans change. We had perfectly mapped out the ideal birth, a productive summer, even the finances were carefully charted. But then we actually started living out the summer and God didn't always agree with our "perfect" little plan. I think one of our big life lessons about law school is in learning to depend on God. We think we have something all figured out, and then we end up with a monkey wrench thrown in. We even thought we had a handle on Abigail's heart condition, then Poof! Down syndrome.

There is nothing like life's plans constantly going awry to remind me that we're still in law school. I think we need to include God on the initial planning stages, then maybe we won't end up down so many wrong paths. Maybe that is another life lesson God is trying to teach us?

 

12 June 2011

Dependency and Guilty

My experience in law school is a mixture of independence and dependence. In Florida, we were particularly independent, but I am finding out that right now, we are very dependent.

We are so dependent on family right now. We are dependent on my Grandmother as we rent her spare bedroom and live in her condo. We are dependent on her to give up her counter space in her kitchen so we can wash our bottles a hundred times a day. We depend on her for her couch, her electricity, her generosity. We try to be respectful, and she's great, don't get me wrong. I am just not the type of person who can live with someone else. I hated having a roommate in college even. Matt is just about the only person I can handle.

We are dependent on my parents to use their spare furniture in the bedroom. We are even dependent on the generosity of our family and friends to provide us with gifts for our new baby. I have hardly needed to spend anything on Abigail. Almost everything I've bought her is simply because I wanted to. That child is certainly not in need for clothes and it's not due to me.

We are about to become dependent on the government and the community tax payers as well, as Abigail is about to start her Early On program this summer. (The government is required by law to provide children with disabilities the opportunities to learn in order to be at the same pace as kids with no disabilities. Because there is a physical and a mental component to Down's, Abigail qualifies for this program as early as birth to help her develop her fine and gross motor skills. Eventually she'll benefit from the therapy to learn to speak, but first she has to learn to hold her head up.)

Everything that everyone is doing for us is incredibly nice and I feel very grateful. I am at a point where I want to start rejecting people's generosity because I am tired of feeling the weight of indebtedness. Pink thank you cards with flowers on the front do nothing to lessen the weight. I tend to carry around my guilt. It's in a suitcase and I carry it with me everywhere. I've got so much guilt from my past and now I'm acquiring new guilt over my baby. Guilt from not being able to breastfeed, guilt over being the person from whom she probably got Down's (it's the woman's fault in 85-90% of cases), guilt every time I realize that I forgot to do tummy time that day. Heck, I feel guilty for all the times I know I'm going to screw things up in the future. Is holding on to guilt a sin?

Have you ever seen the movie Good Will Hunting? At the end of that movie, therapist Sean (Robin Williams) discovers that Will (Matt Damon) was severely beaten as a child. Will seems totally okay with his past, but Sean looks him in the eye and says, "it's not your fault." "I know," Will replies, solid as stone. "It's not your fault," Sean keeps repeating over and over again until Will breaks down and relentlessly sobs. The two hug and it is clear that the tears are therapeutic in that they allow Will to finally face and move past his traumas. Sometimes that is what I want. Someone to just hold me and tell me everything will be okay and it's not my fault over and over again until I break down in tears (if that happened today, it wouldn't take very long). I want it to be therapeutic. I want to heal. I want to look at my daughter without feeling like I failed her.

10 June 2011

Sleep Deprivation

I'm not really sure what to blog about. Not too much law school wife stuff has been going on. Matt has been busy doing chores, running errands, and doing some networking on his week off. We have been able to hang out with some old friends as well, which has been very nice. I have been recovering well (I even went shopping without getting sore at all!) I can stand long enough to do light dishes as well. Abigail is doing great, she's up to 6lbs 11oz last time she was weighed, she also has great color and muscle tone. Her eyes seem to be developing fine, but I am worried about her hearing. She isn't responding as well to noise as I would think she should be. The Pediatrician said to keep an eye on it and if it still seems lagging, we'll have her hearing tested. She aced the hearing test in the hospital, so I may be overreacting.

I do wonder how Abigail's health and developmental issues will affect my ability to work part time come fall. I also wonder how working part time will affect her governmental benefits, for which we recently found out she qualifies. These are all questions I'm going to have to answer later, because right now I am too sleep deprived to try to plan anything of importance. She is a little over three weeks old, which means that it has been a little over three weeks since I slept for more than 4 hours at a time.

05 June 2011

Vici

On most days, I feel like I am barely holding it all together. It's all the stress of our life right now, the living situation, the money situation, combined with postpartum hormonal crashes and a lack of sleep. But some days are different, some days I fall asleep feeling like I conquered the world. Today was one of those days.

It started at church this morning when we caught glimpses of so many parishioners whom we hadn't seen in the two years that we've been living in Florida. Some were people we only ever had polite conversations with, others where people with whom we'd formed real friendships, but all were people with whom we'd only lightly stayed in contact, mostly through Facebook. But at least a dozen people stopped by our pew after Mass for at least a moment just to say hi and meet Abigail. Then we poured outside where we continued to chat with friends. I couldn't believe how many people wanted to at least say hi and ask if we were back for good. It hurt me to tell them all that we are only here for one summer.

The love continued when we got back home. My mom stopped by with four large homemade meals so that we wouldn't have to cook for the next week (month?). An hour or so later, my dad stopped by. We just sat around and chatted for a little while; it felt so comfortable, so peaceful. My dad had just come from my cousin's graduation party, bearing such a large load of gifts I joked that perchance the party was actually for us. We couldn't make the party (just a quick trip to Target still leaves me feeling quite exhausted and a bit sore), but people had still brought armloads of gifts. Aunts of mine who don't even like me bought Abigail gifts! I was flattered by their generosity.

I also feel empowered. A few days ago my dad and I were talking about how we felt about Abigail's Down's and he said very simply, "It sucks, but so what?" I love the brutal simplicity of the statement. I wish she didn't have an extra chromosome. I wish she didn't have a hole in her heart. But she does. So let's move on. I have also been meditating on something a friend said to me: "Your baby's problems just come with names, that's all." I also really like this statement. Who doesn't have issues? I know I have my fair share of imperfections. Mine just aren't in a textbook somewhere.

The more I get to know Abigail, the more I realize that she's just Abigail. She isn't Down Syndrome and she isn't Tetralogy of Fallot. She has likes and dislikes and a personality just like any other baby. I don't know when she'll hold her head up or learn to walk and talk. Right now she's a two and a half week old newborn, and she is doing just what a new little baby should be doing: eating, sleeping, and pooping. Today is one of those days when I feel like I can handle anything. Today I conquered. Vici.

02 June 2011

June 2, 2011

This was supposed to be her due date, but alas, today she is 14 days old. I am treasuring these newborn days because I know they will not last.

Matt's first day went wonderfully. He is anticipating a good summer with ample time to network and look for a job after graduation. Yesterday he got off early, today he didn't have to go in until 11:30 and tomorrow is a half day. In fact, the judge has next week off for vacation, so Matt will have the week off as well. On one hand, it is advantageous because the summer got off to a slow start in terms of our other projects since Abigail decided to make an early appearance, so Matt appreciates the additional time. On the other hand, the way the payment schedule is set up for the internship, Matt only gets paid for hours clocked, so we will be getting less money than we previously anticipated. I'm not exactly sure how we're going to look financially at the end of this summer.

I am still doing well, I am able to do more and more everyday, which is making me feel less stir-crazy. I am still pretty limited in terms of my ability to walk; a trip to Target yesterday proved to be too much for me just yet, but I do try to make two 15 minute walks down the sidewalk and back to get move and get back in shape. In terms of life around the house, between the Boppy pillow and a wear-your-baby wrap, I am finding more ways to attachment parent Little Bits and still use my hands. I am also feeling more at home here, especially with the help of my mom who is helping me clean things up. My Grandmother (who is still in rehab), was very limited in her range of motion and her condo was rather...disorganized, to put it mildly. My mom is helping me to get things organized and also arranging things so that it is easier for an elderly woman and a recovering post-op patient can navigate with a bit more ease.

This morning when I was kissing my husband good-bye, I realized how incredibly much I miss spending time with him. It may sound a bit odd since we have been together all day every day except for the last two days, but in reality, ever since May 18th, we have been together physically, but not mentally. We have been too exhausted to do much more than daily motions every 2-3 hours. So we decided that we are going to try to go on a date this weekend. I am not exactly sure what we're going to do that doesn't involve much walking and can be done between pumping and feeding, but we're going to figure out something. Our marriage has stayed so strong during these nights of no sleep and 5 hour doctor's appointments and I want to make sure it stays that way.