Due to Extenuating Circumstances

Adventures in Unplanned Parenthood

Archive for the month “May, 2016”

Love Story: the real sequel

Oh, readers. You’ll love this. I mean it; you’ll love this, because by now you think you’ve copped on. “Sarah can’t possibly have this many physical problems, she’s a head case who exaggerates minor physical discomforts for the sake of the story,” you’re saying to yourself in my voice at this very minute. I do mean this minute. I wait until each and every one of you is reading, then I say it along with you. (Hi, Don & Suzie, congrats on the move!).

Hollywood, I have the ultimate pitch to you. I want to pitch my movie about the sequel to Love Story, only this is very real and the coveted age 40-65 movie target audience will come for this one. They truly will.

We start with the wife, and this IS based on a true story, somewhere out there some superheroes disguised as EMTs and firefighters will corroborate… taken to the ER with what we now know was an extremely sudden attack of benign positional vertigo. The entire world was spinning, I could NOT stop puking, I was lethargic and confused, and wasn’t ambulatory. Simply put, it was like being drunk on a Tilt-a-Whirl after you’ve eaten Thanksgiving dinner then stepped into an anti-gravity chamber. Hm. I need to work on “simply put.” Anyhow, the vertigo is expected to last six weeks or so, and I frequently get so dizzy I have to stop everything and sit on the floor, or I’ll get there one second later but land on my face.

We meet the protagonist, Mac. He’s NOT George Clooney, he’s had to live a real life, so go find an actor that has DONE that, thank you. Mac is now married to a person who cannot pick up their beautiful adopted baby from off the ground, lift the baby or carry him for more than a minute, put him in a carseat, or, for that matter, drive. (I still get so damned dizzy that I get carsick while I’m driving. One or two things my cop father said are rattling around somewhere in my brain, thus I respect a car is a deadly weapon in the wrong hands. I have taken myself off the road before I get myself or someone else killed).

Mac’s school year is all but done, he’s mostly researching and writing. Don’t let that fool you; that’s still a 40 hour work week, when done by serious professors who give a damn and are good at their jobs. Sitting on your butt and writing (for real) is WORK. His day is simple: get baby up, feed him, dress him, drop him at Learning Center (daycare), go to work, get baby, come home, amuse baby til dinner, make dinner, TV, bed. He has made it clear my character is welcome to join in, but if I don’t feel well enough, by all means he’ll get’r done.

Obviously I try to do what I can. Mac can nap while Baby and I watch Sesame Street and count our toes, or I give him an amazing new toy and he can hit other things with it. Today it was a spoon. Yesterday it was empty husk of a highlighter, the innards long-since sent to the Staples in the sky. I helped change the bed after Baby pooped in it and the clumpy, yogurty mess went all down Baby’s pant leg. That mess, by the way, was a grim reminder that Mac should double check he put a diaper on the kid before putting him in the crib.

That’s how tired this man is. He forgot the diaper entirely. Then thanked me for getting a clean mattress pad on the bed. Thanked me.

Think about that for a second.

Hollywood, take note: I am now writing the secret to the greatest screenplay of the last century, and giving it away for free, so at the VERY least give it some thought and then cast an actress who is 40 to play me, not a 22 year old who has a flat stomach and a $300 haircut.

Mac did Love Story, the original. His first wife died very young, of a cancer so vicious it couldn’t even have the mercy to end her days quickly. There was no Ali McGraw, no beautiful soundtrack, no Academy award nominations. It sucked Mac dry then left him for dead, except he was still here.

Now here he is, in a sequel that, like so many others, is a fainter shade of the real deal and nobody’s heard of the actress. A whole decade younger…should have been a safe bet, huh? Nope. Still calling 911, still getting huge medical bills, still seeing doctors shake their head and say “I’ve never heard of this before. Sorry.” And in the middle of all of this…he found enough love in his heart to dream of a son, and then Baby finally comes. Mac is now under studio contract to keep making this work no matter how much the actress is wandering off and on the set, taking weird pills, sitting for no discernible reason in the middle of the floor, making the whole house into an instant parody of the world’s shittiest ashram. The baby screams because he wants Cheerios, the soundtrack to the Wiggles is on permanent loop for the rest of our lives, and after cleaning up the poop, putting everything in the clothes washer, drying it, bringing it upstairs, feeding our kid and spending time with me…

HE thanked ME for putting the mattress pad on Baby’s crib.

Hollywood, I know you’re blowing me off, but believe me when I tell you every couple who has been in love through these times will see this movie. Anybody can fall in love. Hell, it’s so easy the Kardashians, David Hasselhoff, Voldemort and Donald Trump all did it, and remember Hasselhoff was quoted as saying “I’ve got taste. It’s inbred in me.”

The sequel is the better, braver movie here. It’s the choice to be a good man, a good father, a good husband, a good provider, a good son, and, with the time he was allowed, a good brother. THAT’S the angle, Hollywood. Show the choices people make when one has to be at 100% day and night, trusting the other will be there when the time comes.

She is here. No, hon, look down. On the floor. But I am here, and I’m grateful that “romantic movie” gives way to scary EMTs, poopy sheets and the grace to thank me when I do what I can as well as I can.

I love you Mac, as I can and from wherever I am. Yep. Down here again, kitchen floor. Thanks for making the sequel.


The Longest Day

Forget Operation Overlord. Ian and I have just had the longest Day of Days. It’s 3:48 am, this timeline is as accurate and factual as I am capable of recalling.

  • 8:00 pm Sarah having pain, in bed with heating pad. Mac puts Baby to bed with standard routine, about 8:30. Normal bedtime is between 8:45 and 9:15. We’re consistent with this.
  • 10:30 During a YouTube video of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (cannot recommend this show highly enough) Baby wakes up, screams.
  • 10:37 We decide something is wrong, usually a little nightmare he’ll fuss for 90 seconds and go back to sleep.
  • 10: 45 Mac goes in to soothe and offer more bottle, standard operating procedure (SOP). Baby gets one soothe visit per night if needed while teething is in full swing. He refuses to be soothed.
  • 11:30 Baby stands in crib and screams. And screams. AND SCREAMS. Very unusual, I go to investigate. Decide to give him standard dose of baby ibuprofen because when I touch around his mouth he looks like that pissed off little red memory voiced by Lewis Black in the film Inside Out. SOP again in play, Mommy leaves after one short comfort song. This tactic almost never needed.
  • 12:05. Mac and I agree this is unprecedented. Daddy tries sitting in favorite chair, offering bottle of nice new milk, BABY MAD. Baby beginning to TALK LIKE HULK. YOU WON’T LIKE ME WHEN I’M ANGRY.
  • 12:30. Holy cow, this is has never happened before. Mommy and Daddy have checked temperature, gently tugged both ears, hear snot but snotsucker produces disappointing results. For me. I think Mac is always happier when there’s not a lot of gelatinous boogery stuff. He says it doesn’t bother him. I know he’s lying, he knows I know he’s lying, now I have made a public record of the fact I know he hates what he professes not to hate and I know that’s bullshit and he knows I know and now you know what? Now you know. That’s what will be listed as the cause in the divorce papers should I receive some tomorrow. Sorry, Mac. I’m tired.
  • 12:45. Again…no idea. Back in bed. Constant, relentless screaming. I put on the soundtrack for The Wiggles on my phone, leave phone near crib but out of sight thinking he’ll relax and fall asleep.
    • Dear Mommy, I can hear Simon but not see him? Tell me again, what made you think this would work?
  • 1:20. He hasn’t stopped screaming in 3+ hours. There’s no longer any, any way to salvage the “nighttime is for sleep and we don’t do other things at night” concept. Our firmness had never backfired until now. I have to strip him out of his pjs, which are WET. Not damp, WET at the collar from tears. Fresh diaper again, now new PJs, and I get a wild idea that says, in Lewis Black’s voice, “Huh! Might as well try gas drops. Everything else on the planet has done jack shit.”
  • 1:30 Daddy takes him for a drive. It invigorates him and then he feels super sleepy. I mean Mac. Who knows what the hell was going with The Incredible Sulk in the car seat?
  • 2:00 I tell Mac to go to bed. As the certified night owl, this really is supposed to be my biggest contribution; I take the night stuff because Mac needs to sleep for work, and in return I sleep later in the a.m.
  • 2:20 I give in. Kid, I give in. I put on The Wiggles, he lets me give him a proper dose of Tylenol and antigas drops in him. He had spit out a good deal of the first ibuprofen three hours ago, how much he got in his system, who could tell you?
  • 3:00 He has quit crying, (now he’s only cranky) because he now has Cheerios, The Wiggles, and even mommy looks tired
  • 3:17 While dancing the Hot Potato song as he holds himself up from a chair, he turns and looks straight at me, and

  • Looks at me, with a sweet angelic grin, and I’m not making this up, he holds his hands out to me. When I pick him up he says “ma-ma.” It’s clear, and beautiful, and he takes one ounce of milk before he rubs both eyes and I lay him in his crib.
  • 3:22. Out like a frickin light, chubby little cheeks smooth with the sheen on dried tears on his face.
  • 3:30. Decide to write it now, while it’s fresh in my mind. And, er, foul in the living room. Realize something like this happened in that movie The Last King of Scotland.
  • 3:40. Yo. Imes Borden: these contacts won’t take themselves out.
  • Good night

The Other Woman

Well, let’s out with it: there is another woman in our relationship. That’s OK, there’s another man, too. Oh, and two small children. And a slightly older child, probably not in the US.

And grandparents.

It’s such a weird and wonderful thing, to know somewhere out there my son has a whole family he knows nothing about. Frankly, I don’t know what’s weirder; we know, but very little, or if we didn’t know anything.We were never supposed to meet our son’s birth family. It was more of an awkward “uh, this is a VERY small maternity ward, and you’re the ONLY white people coming in, unpregnant and excited out of your minds we’re the Mexican man, woman and two very young children stuck in the doorway while they do some paperwork… uh…hola!” We were under the impression they wanted to meet. That was wrong. Through an interpreter, at the last minute our social worker was told that in the Mexican communities of itinerant workers the common preference is for a totally closed adoption.

That’s rare in the US now. Open is the only way to go. I admit a selfish part of me wanted to be the ONLY mom, the ONLY woman he could picture…but our kid is, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, Mexican-American. He’s gonna cop on pretty fast he doesn’t look like Mrs. Gringa over here, who is the color of the underbelly of a frog and can be used as a night light in certain emergency situations. I’m glad his birth family consented to one super awkward picture, so at least we can show him: see? You didn’t come out of thin air. The reading I’ve done, and talks with our social worker, indicate children of color need these cues to feel more secure as they grow up. OK, nobody’s pretending I got a good tan, I do see where I came from and letting me be who I am involves talking about my birth mom and dad.

For me, the weirdest part is wondering when she thinks of him. She must although she has got to be BUSY;when we met they had a 2 AND 1 year old with them. I have a single 16 month old and my husband washed a load of underwear for me last week after he looked in my underwear drawer and saw two swimsuits and a credit card I haven’t used since 1998. I went to feed Baby the other day and found my keys in the freezer. Still though, she must wonder how the son they gave up is doing. What would I say?

Well, he was a VERY non-picky eater until two weeks ago,now he throws tantrums worthy of Gordon Ramsey in the kitchen. He screams his head off at nap time, even though he’s rubbing his eyes and trying not to yawn. He likes strawberries better than grapes. He likes most veggies. He thinks hot dogs are OK-ish, and he loves to eat rice with his hands. He uses his grubby little hands to mold sushi bites, then eats them. They’re gross, honestly.

Mostly, I think I’d say thank you. I did then, but that was for the baby.This time I’d say thank you for the experiences, and insanity, the unexpected moments of grace, and hilarity. I’d say thanks for knowing what you’re about to miss and handing him over anyway.

Finally, I want to say Happy Birthmother’s Day. I’m pretty sure most women don’t set out to become one. Thank you for doing it anyway. I may make light of silly things in this column, but I get to do that because there’s enough buoyancy in my heart to share. Those levels were ROCK BOTTOM before we received your gift. Gracias. As I said to you in my crappy Spanish the day we accidentally met, “desde el fondo de mi corazón, gracias.” From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

The Scream

I don’t know what’s happened. This was sudden, it was unexpected, it’s completely off-the-charts, not to mention off of the timeline we thought we were following.

Baby is 16 months, and, I say this with love, he has become a total jerk.

Seriously! Not even two weeks ago we had a sunny little boy, who loved to pet the cat, take long naps, and have Daddy throw him the air while Mommy shouted “wheeeeee!” and tried to take pictures. Not that long ago he loved new food, scooting around and meeting people. It was the perfect time to enroll him in his new daycare. Uh, sorry. Learning Center…and they do insist that a child my son’s age is better off at a Learning Center, capital L and Capital C.  Then one day, the kid Mac brought home from the daycare Learning Center was, well, an asshole!

He shouts like the world is ending when you lay him down for a diaper change. He DOES NOT DO baby food anymore, even his old favorites like turkey and rice. Feeding him is not happening. Baby feeds himself or baby won’t be eating today, thanks. When he’s done, he violently pushes away or drops it all on the floor. If he doesn’t like what you gave him, floor. Less than two weeks ago I had the world’s least fussy eater! Where did THAT KID go?

Navigating entertainment is a nightmare. Wrong episode of The Wiggles? Lock Mommy in the Tower of London. At this very second, I’m listening to the baby scream a high-pitched whine because Daddy only read the football book twice, not three times. It’s almost comical when he wants to look out the living room window but I’m the only one home. I can’t hold him up there to see out well, but he can look at all the same stuff if I open his nursery blinds and he can stand in his crib. But that’s not the window he wants, Mommy, you incompetent piece of trash.

Again, I can hear him screaming at Mac right now. This time it’s because he can’t have a taste of whatever Mac is drinking; Glenfiddich, if Mac’s smart.

The Baby found a wooden rod that’s held to play a bodhran, a traditional Irish drum. Baby screamed for 20 minutes when he was not allowed to use the cat as a drum.

He kicks violently if he wants to do something dangerous, like fall down a flight of stairs, and you stop him.

He dropped our Roku remote in a glass of ice water.

He screams incessantly when put down for a nap, even if he is so tired he has drooped his little head to lay down on the living room rug.

Baby damned near broke Mac’s nose hurling himself at Daddy during a temper tantrum, then threw ANOTHER tantrum that while Daddy assessed the damage Baby wasn’t allowed to rip out the hearing aids Daddy desperately needs to avoid being dependent on mime and ASL.

He’s angry we won’t let him inhale and draw things with Sharpies. He screams when he throws something on the ground, it gets left there to discourage that, so he throws more at it in a misguided attempt to make things better.

Baby is angry The Wiggles only sent 78 episodes to the US with Simon in them. He freaks the hell out over Simon. If anybody happens to know Simon of the Wiggles, please tell him he’s welcome to come sleep with me, or Mac, or both of us if that’s his thing, if he will only keep my kid occupied until Baby’s 3rd birthday.

Is it ethical to give a 16 month old a little Benedryl to make him sleep? I’m asking for a friend.

Finally…where did my baby go? The little bundle who shook his whole body with glee when he heard the straps of my velcro; the sound that always meant Mommy’s here, and she’s going to pick you up and we’ll have great adventures together. Is he coming back? Even in a bigger format, I miss the baby who loved his father, his Oscar (“ar! Gar!” he’d squeal, gleefully sinking his face into the cat’s soft belly). PLEASE bring him back. Mac and I can only stand a baby behaving exactly as we must have for a little while longer.

Then it’s Glenfiddich and Benedryl time. For us.

Simon’s got the baby.

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