Friday, 29 June 2012

I'm Delirious With Chaos

Grady has been doing so well for the last week that I didn't let myself fret when I couldn't track down the results of the tests run on Father's Day. He had blood taken last Sunday to check his neutrophils level and I made an appointment for him to see his doctor today so she could give us the all clear.

Grady has been fever free for over a week and his appetite returned full force so I thought that the appointment would just be a formality so we could move on and forget about these past weeks.

Grady's doctor called me yesterday and requested that I bring him to see her. Immediately. She kept her voice light but when I told her we had an appointment to see her on Friday anyway and could it just wait until then, her voice got less light and she told me that no, it couldn't wait another day, and I really did need to bring Grady in to see her.

She couldn't / wouldn't tell me much over the phone, just that Grady's latest blood work showed staph and critically low neutrophils and this was worrying because he had completed a round of antibiotics.

And then my head melted and I went into full on panic mode because staph is one thing, staph that doesn't respond to antibiotics is a whole different thing. I was at work when I got the call so I had to take the train home, hyperventilating the whole way.

Shawn was eerily calm. He kept telling me that there was no way Grady could have a staph infection. He had no fever. He was happy. He was eating and sleeping well. He was playing and chattering and laughing. He was showing no signs of being ill.

For some reason, Shawn's calmness has never comforted me. It's almost like his refusal to worry means that I have to do all the worrying for both of us. Maybe that means we're well matched. I don't know. Probably it means I need more therapy.

Our afternoon was confusing and horrible and I really don't have much to write about it because all I remember is being in a permanent state of clenchiness and breathlessness. The end result is good - Grady is absolutely fine. There was a major miscommunication somewhere down the line (there were two hospitals, four hospital visits, two specialists, one lab, and Grady's doctor's office involved in his care - which provided too much opportunity for fuck ups) and the wrong test results were presented as his most recent test results. His Father's Day results - which showed staph and a neutrophil level of 0.2 - were given to my doctor as the results from last Sunday's blood work. I don't know who is responsible for the screw up. When it was discovered I was on such a high of "my kid is okay!" that I didn't have room in me to be mad (after a sleepless night of post-fretting adrenaline crash and nightmares last night? I HAVE SO MUCH ROOM IN ME TO BE MAD.)

Once the mix up was discovered, and the correct test results located, we were told that Grady is absolutely fine. His neutrophils are still low but they're in the normal range (and much higher than they were last week) so he's been given a clean bill of health. And really, that's the most important thing (I say while still seething over the clusterfuck.)

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Just Do It Whatever It Is

You guys get me. The tweets and comments on yesterday's post describe pretty accurately my thought process during this whole invitation writing process. Thank you.

I think my problem is that I'm trying to solve two separate problems with one solution. And it's not that neat and tidy. 

The first problem is the simplest. I don't want Grady to have a lot of stuff that he doesn't need. My options are to either (a) ask people not to give him gifts for his birthday or (b) donate anything he doesn't need to a local charity / shelter. 

If I chose (a) I risk offending people or hurting their feelings. I also make a fun celebration (birthday!) an opportunity for fretting (do we bring a gift even though she request no gifts? what if we don't bring a gift and then EVERYBODY else does bring a gift? etc.) Option (a) is not ideal.

Option (b) requires that I be strict and remove my emotions from the equation. Option (b) is harder for me. I grew up in a home where we held onto things. Forever. I have spent the last year focusing on letting go of things and attempting to simplify my life. It's hard for me. I'm nowhere near where I want to be when it comes to letting go of possessions. I'm a bit ... hoardy. It's really hard for me to admit that. I am nostalgic and I place emotions on things and I hold on tight. Option (b) presents an opportunity for me to put into practice what I've been trying to learn (things are not love. They are not contentment or peace or pride or status. They are just things.) 

So I've decided to not put anything on the invitation about gifts. I will choose option (b) and I will donate any gifts that Grady doesn't need. 

The second problem is messier. I don't want family members who have the means to spoil Grady to make other family members feel like they have to match their spoilyness in order to win Grady's affection. I have been doing a whole lot of hand wringing over this and then someone wise told me to stop giving a fuck and you know what? I have resolved to stop giving a fuck. People are nuts. I will make myself as crazy as they are if I play into this scenario. This is not my battle. If it starts to affect Grady? I will bring out crazy Hillary and I will shut them down so hard but for now - not my problem. (Not my problem not my problem not my problem ... maybe if I say it enough times I will start to believe it.) 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Give A Little Love

I've seen this question asked a hundred times but I've never seen it answered  satisfactorily. Is there a graceful way to ask people to not bring presents to a birthday party?

I've seen "your presence is presents enough!" on invitations. I've seen requests for a toonie (Canadian $2 coin) in place of a present so the birthday kid can buy a birthday item. I've seen people take the direct route of "no presents please!" I've seen requests for specific items like books. And I've seen the reverse - people insulted or annoyed by the mention of presents on party invitations.

I'm putting together Grady's 1st birthday party invitation and I'm stuck. Do I risk offending people by asking them not to bring presents? Do I say nothing and just donate everything Grady doesn't need? You guys, Grady was spoiled at Christmas. I didn't write about it because I didn't want to sound like an ungrateful cow but Christmas was ridiculous. Don't believe me? Here's a photo of my 5-month old baby riding the pedal tractor (with attached trailer!) he was given by a grandparent.

Look, I know this all comes from a place of love and I am so grateful and happy that so many people love my kid. I also know that it's fun to buy gifts. And really, in the grand scheme of things this is not something I should be fretting about.

But I am fretting. I'm fretting because I know money is tight for some people and I don't want them to feel like they have to buy Grady a birthday gift. We're having a big party for Grady's first birthday because we want to celebrate and say thank you to the many people who helped us through this first, difficult year. There are some weird competey family dynamics we have to contend with and I really don't want them to come out in the form of my child being lavished with expensive things. I want to nip this in the bud before he's old enough to recognize who is buying what for him (just like I don't want Shawn and I to be the "fun" parent and the "strict" parent the way I viewed my parents when I was a kid, I don't want Grady to view one grandparent as the "indulgent" grandparent and one as the "frugal" grandparent.)

So what do I do? How have you dealt with this?

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

I Don't Want You Now, Bang, Bang, Bang, Gone

Yesterday afternoon, at quarter to five, in the middle of rush hour, outside a Starbucks on the main street in my city, about one and a half miles from my building, there was a fatal shooting. Less than a month after the last fatal shooting (the one that happened across the street from my building, in the parking lot of a rec centre right after a hockey game finished) my city has been hit with another.

You guys, my city is not a murdery place. Our police department doesn't even have a homicide unit. We have to bring in the Vancouver homicide unit to investigate our murders, that's how few murders my city usually has.

They're saying both shootings are gang-related, targeted hits. Which is somewhat comforting, I guess. I mean, it's better than someone randomly shooting people on the street. But is it comforting to know that there are warring gangs settling their disputes on our streets in broad daylight? No, it is not. Are we supposed to be confident that they know how to shoot a gun with precise aim and that innocent bystanders aren't in any danger?

Look, I know that there are much scarier places than my little city. There are people living in much more dangerous places dealing with much scarier things. I get it. But I chose to live here. I have walked past that Starbucks a hundred times with Grady. The farmers market we go to is in that same rec centre parking lot. It feels like the steps I normally take to reduce my risk (step one: don't join a gang; step two: don't make anyone want to shoot my face) are no longer enough. But what can I do to protect myself in a situation like this? Don't leave my home, ever? It's tempting.

Monday, 25 June 2012

There's No Light Over London Today

Eight Junes ago, I moved to England by myself. I was tough as nails in the weeks leading up to my move but when the day came, I was a blubbering mess in the airport lounge. I left weepy messages on my family's voicemails and I fought the urge to call that cute guy (Shawn!) I'd been dating casually before I decided to leave. I shivered - partly from the freezing cabin, partly from nerves - the entire way to England and when the plane touched down after ten sleepless hours, I barfed. I was sitting next to a cute Irish guy (who had the curliest blonde hair I'd ever seen) and when he asked me if I was okay, if I had anyone to take care of me, my last shred of dignity disappeared and I whispered "nooooo" as my eyes filled with tears. Fortunately the plane had come to a stop and the "fasten seatbelts" light went out and I escaped to the lavatory where I hid until I could take a deep breath without crying.

There's a certain smell in the air in Vancouver come June. The air is light and fresh and brisk without being chilly. It hits suddenly, this smell. One day it's grey and the air smells only of rain and dampness and then the next day the rain is still there (after all it is Vancouver) but the air is crisp and green and I'm transported back to June 2004, driving to the airport with the windows down, trying to remember every detail of how Vancouver looked and smelled and sounded.

This smell will forever remind me of the first steps I took toward being the person I am today. The person who will travel alone, will eat in restaurants alone, will spend a lot of time alone without feeling lonely, who will meet a whole lot of new people and be able to discern who is worth holding onto no matter the distance, who isn't afraid to live.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

When I Wake Up Please Come Around Again

Thank you so much for your kind words and good thoughts. Grady seems to be doing much better. His fever hasn't returned and he's starting to eat again. We still don't have the test results back - and he has to go in for more blood work tomorrow - but we're hopeful that the rough patch is over. My new mantra is "no news is good news."

I'm feeling faffy today. Feel free to join in. I welcome any distraction (says the lady who unironically downloaded Justin Bieber's new album yesterday for distraction purposes.)

If you have a second (and any knowledge about belts + dresses) could you help me out over on Style Lush?

If you want to catch a glimpse of my nephew, you can head to Swistle's baby name blog.  

If you're local, you should think about heading to Pajo's Rocky Point this weekend. If the weather (and Grady's health) cooperate we'll be heading down. Come say hi - I'll be the one with the cute baby and a mouth full of delicious fish and chips.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Too Numb To Notice That The Sky Has Turned So Blue

Grady has been sick for a week. A week of hell. A week of charting temperatures and not eating and tepid baths. A week of four hospital visits and two blood tests and very little sleep. Grady's fever is gone, which is a good thing, and his blood work was satisfactory enough that the doctor was comfortable sending us home yesterday, which is a very good thing, and for now I'm just trying to remember to breathe and work my way down from the state of perpetual panic I've been in since Friday.

We're dealing with two issues: his urine and blood keep growing staph and his neutrophils level is critically low. We're playing the waiting game right now. Tomorrow (hopefully) or Wednesday (more likely) we'll find out if his latest blood work shows staph (the doctors keep telling us that staph doesn't make sense and it's likely the result of contaminated samples but correct me if I'm wrong, three for three is NOT GOOD ODDS AT ALL, you filthy filthy hospital.) On Friday we will take him for more blood work to check his neutrophils level. We can't do anything right now but wait. I am not a good waiter. I'm a doer. Except there isn't anything for me to do right now except fret. That buzzing noise you hear? Is me doing all the fretting.

I'm very lucky to have my older sister. Turtle has done all the necessary Googling so I don't have to. She's told me the good bits and told me to stay away from the bad bits. It has taken Herculean strength but I've managed to stay away from the bad bits. I'm lucky to have good friends who offer to bring us food in the hospital and lovely Twitter and Facebook friends who hold us in their hearts and don't laugh at me when I ask for healing (hippie) vibes. I'm lucky that Gus is at home and even though things aren't very good at all right now they're not horribly bad either.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

All The Broken Bits That Make You Jump Up

I don't know if it's because Grady's first birthday is approaching (what?!) or if it's because Turtle just gave birth, but I've been thinking a lot about Grady's birth. Specifically, his delivery. Even more specifically, shortly after his delivery when my bits were being fixed.

There are so many random things that happened the night Grady was born that stand out clearly in my mind. I don't know why I remember them so distinctly but I do. I remember the text message exchange I had with a friend where she asked if we were still on to watch the Bachelorette or, haha, was I in labour? I remember Shawn snacking on jalapeƱo-spiced beef jerky and almost murdering him when he breathed in my face accidentally. I remember texting my mom and asking if she'd make me her home-made mac&cheese when I was finally done birthing her grandson. I remember wanting a nurse to shave my head because I could not stand the feeling of a single strand of hair touching my face. I remember the Gibson Guitars t-shirt that Shawn was wearing and my doctor asking him if he was in a band (and me being all "HI! I AM IN LABOUR OVER HERE! CAN WE PLEASE TALK ABOUT MUSIC LATER? KTHXBAIMOTHERFUCKERS!")

My favourite, though, is the exchange between my doctor and the resident who was present for Grady's birth. (A little background info: the hospital where I gave birth is a teaching hospital. The resident who was assigned to me was a very nice, very quiet man who pretty much stood in the corner of the room and looked terrified for most of my labour.)

After Grady was born, a little repair work was needed in the nush area. (I'm sorry. I'm trying to not be too vagina-y but look, I had an 8lb 6.5oz kid. There was some ... damage.) So my doctor (whom I loved) handed the resident a giant fucking needle and told him to stitch me up. And the resident says, "I'm not too good at tying off."

So just to recap: I've just given birth to a giant baby (without the aid of an epidural) and a resident who up until a few hours before was a total stranger to me (and who is standing at my exposed genitals with a giant needle) says that he's not too good at what my doctor is asking him to do.

The look my doctor shot the resident was priceless. It was the best "shut the fuck up and just do it" look I have ever seen. I strive to one day achieve a look as effective as hers. Because it was totally effective. The resident shut the fuck up and did it. And I didn't care if I had a jagged or uneven vagina scar. Because I had my baby.

I hope I never forget the exchange between my doctor and the resident. It still makes me giggle. Part of me hopes that I run into that resident one day (unlikely seeing as I don't even know his name) just so I can say, "hey dude, pro tip: don't admit to being crappy at sewing right before you sew up someone's vagina." Right? I mean, really.