lezbemoms

Raising a Blended Family

Hello From The Other Side/A Year In The Life

It has been so long since I have spoken here, I hardly know what to say. In perusing my own blog space, it was fun to read back my last few posts and to see evidence of how our lives were- an echoing familiarity to those words and yet a stark contrast to our current reality. How very, very much has changed in the past year!

For starters… we relocated. All the way to California, out of the Midwest and into sunny southern California. Back to my roots, my homeland, my tribe. Newness and newย  beginnings for my wife, who has always been a Midwesterner, and for my boy, who (as much as I hate to admit it), was born a Midwesterner and knows more of corn and cows than sand and seashells. (Shiloh doesn’t care much either way where we are- the gift of being young and unaware).

The relocation was an attempt to solidify family structures and support systems. We had no community, no People, in the midwest- wifey’s family was of the tolerate-but-do-not-welcome homophobic tribe, and my family was all here, in soCal. It was so very, very hard, to live without that tribe- for instance, Shiloh and my wife were both hospitalized at different points with pneumonia, and we had NO one to help. Minor daycare emergencies came up- we were SOL, on our own, keeping our own boat afloat. Kids got sick, cars broke down, tires went flat, trips to the grocery store had to be made with sleeping children- no one was there to support us, but us. Pax was born, for goodness’ sake, and we had no one here for two whole weeks afterwards! Holidays were had mainly alone, exceptions being Christmas and visits in the summer, and even then, it was a limited few family birds rather than the whole flock that we got to celebrate with. The family feasts of both our childhoods, the remembered raucousness of cousins being cousins at family get-togethers, the comraderie of opening one’s presents and then making the communal trip to grandmother’s house with the rest of the family, only to repeat the process there as well… none of that was anywhere to be found in the Midwest for us. Looking back, I can’t quite believe how lonely it was. I’m not sure how we survived for seven years there, but we did, with “survive” being the key word and the alternate form, “thrive,” not being applicable. And so, in an attempt to thrive, to find community, and family, and support, not just for ourselves but most especially for our children, we made the Great Move cross-country. We transferred Wifey’s job and my nursing licenses out here, packed up our stuff and our children… and moved.

The one exception to the entire process has been Thing One. When I spoke earlier of us missing family and lack of community, that was true… for all except her. I’m not sure how much I’ve spoken of it in this space, but Thing One’s father is very much a part of her life, having (until now) regular parenting time visits while we retained full physical custody of her. Thing One grew up with the inconvenience of divorced parents but the full benefit of having all of her grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and extended relatives available to her- on her dad’s side. We loved that for her, but hated that for ourselves and our other children, this was not the case. We originally desired to move EVERYBODY in our family out to SoCal, so that EVERYBODY would have some form ofย  “family” available to them, even if it meant moving Thing One away from this other half of her family (quite the catch 22, I assure you.). However, the long story short is that a judge ruled for Thing One’s father to have custody of her if we were to move out of state- which we did- and so she now lives with him and we get visitation. The situation became a question of “what is best for the entire family” and in the end, this had to be the answer.

The good news is, things are going great thus far. We have been here for a month and a half now. Thing One is doing very well, living with her dad, and we are all looking forward to her coming to visit in just over a week. She seems to have adjusted quite well to this change in circumstances, and may, possibly, in ways I can’t adequately describe here, be benefiting from the arrangement moreso than when she was living with us. She is in 5th grade now, going to a wonderful school, active in Girl Scouts, sees her cousins daily, spends every weekend with her grandparents… it may sound funny, but neither of us are worried about her one bit. We miss her, absolutely. But not worried. There is also an amendment to this new custody agreement that if, for some reason, things should not be going well with this arrangement and Thing One begins to suffer (dropped schoolwork, increased ADHD signs/symptoms, not being adequately cared for, etc etc) she would come back to us after this “trial period” year. So, it helps to know we have this safety net in place, should the need arise.

On our end of things, I feel like things are settling in. We are living with my parents currently, partly to save money on rent and partly because it is HARD to find an adequate living space for your family when you are across the country from the spaces you’re looking for! So, we are hoping this situation is temporary but also open to a more long-term extension as well. I will be starting school to become a Nurse Practitioner this winter (3 year, part-time program), and while I am in school I confess I do not mind living here and saving up some moohlah! Plus, my mom has been a huge help and support- everything we were missing while living back east, honestly, and my best friend lives in this same town and is more of the same. Wifey’s job transferred her across country, so she has been working since the second week we got here, whereas I had to wait for my California nursing license to transfer (and boy was THAT a process) and am only just now getting my foot in the door with applications. There are a few prospects on the horizon, so we shall see what turns up!

And as for the littles… oh, the littles. Pax is HUGE but still a scrawny thing, as in here-have-a-stick-of-butter scrawny. I have the same worries that every other preschool mother has, that he doesn’t eat enough and his preferred palate (mac n cheese, chicken nuggets, ketchup, more ketchup) doesn’t offer much nutritionally- but I know, in the end, he will be just fine. We are doing the Mad Preschool Scramble Search right now, which is a new game to us and one I’m not altogether happy to be playing! In our old town, we could pretty much sidle on up to any ‘ole preschool we wanted, at any time of year, to get him a spot, but now that we are in a much bigger town and population center, we of course can’t do that! What we are discovering is that there are waiting lists, sometimes over a year long (!), and that most of the preferred schools have been filled up for this fall for the past year. We have found a few glimmers in the darkness- just not first-choice glimmers- and I have to keep reminding myself that mommy needs a job, folks, (and therefore the kids have to have SOMEWHERE to go) and that this won’t be forever (Pax will start transitional kindergarten next year as he misses the cutoff date for regular kindergarten due to his birthday).ย  So, really, we just need to pick one and get this decision-making behind us but oh, how much agony this decision feels like when you are in the midst of it.

As for Pax himself- he is doing well, all things considering. He is still adjusting from the move, and every now and then will ask to go home, not to Grandma’s house. I know he also misses his own little Tribe of People, because in the midwest he was going to preschool 4/5 days a week and here he has not yet started, so there has been far less social interaction than he is used to. We have been doing library reading times, playgroups, hiking- any kind of interaction we can scrounge up- but it is not the same as a preschool full of buds to hang out with. He remains hyperactive and impulsive- he has a new scar on his eye from getting his first stitches two weeks ago after he decided to dive out of my arms- and we are starting the process of getting him tested for ADHD. At this stage, even if (when) he is found to have it, they would not (and we would not let them) give him medication, but they can and do have proven behavioral interventions they can do with him while we wait for him to grow and gain some more control. I can’t help but feel guilty that he is going through this, as I am 99% sure I have adult ADHD and that I must have passed it onto my son. Sorry, little guy.

 

Shiloh, on the other hand, is our patch of calm in a rough sea. She does have a temper but for the most part is the easiest, happiest, most chill baby I have ever seen. She is always smiling, cooing, blowing raspberries… oh how I love this child. She turned 1 in July, which still doesn’t seem possible but nevertheless happened. She is a peanut! 20lbs but relatively short- everyone who sees her assumes she is still under one, including her own pediatrician (until she knew better!). She just started really getting the hang of walking a week ago, but now that she’s up on two feet, you can’t stop her- she is a walking queen. She and her brother love to play and it makes me so happy to see them together.

 

More on the wife and I later- this is a monster enough post, for now. I’m glad to be returning to this space, although we will see how often it ends up being.

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If you’re in need of a bedtime story

…then look no further. Another “snippet” of daily life here is reading to this boy- he loves all types of books and hungrily flips through page after page to learn as much as he can, as fast as he can about the world.

Certain favorites, however, are more frequently repeated and this book, The Pelly Pelly Book (also known as “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”) tops the charts in our house. He has read it so many times with us that now he can “read” it to himself… Or to grandma, via YouTube video. Now, he can “read” it to you, too- so grab a cozy blanket and settle in to hear the tale, todschooler* style.

*Todschooler= toddler + preschooler. Because, at his age, he is hard to classify and also because moms aren’t ready to admit that he’s grown so big already!

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Snippets

So, it’s been more than a month, you say.

And you haven’t heard a peep from me, you say.

I’m guilty as charged but I’ll tell you what… I’ve been theoretically living every moment my life yet it still doesn’t seem as if I’m getting anything more than snippets of each day to remember, to hold, to look back on and say “oh yes, this is what my life was on that day.” I want to reach out and freeze time but all I manage to do ever do, it seems, is to pluck tiny moments from its whirlwind stream as it flows by me, tiny moments to have and to keep and to cherish. I am glad to share them with you, if only to offer something in this space that currently houses nothing, but all you will get is all that I have: these snippets.

Snippet: My son, age newly three and still growing into his longer legs, face knees arms bruised and dirty from too many stumbles because slowing down means he’ll miss something, running through the open field in the park on a windy autumn day. His feet through leaves going crunch crunch crunch and his toddler hands grasping so many rocks, he is leaving a trail of pebbles like Hansel and Gretel as they traveled through the woods. He runs up, stops last at the last possible second before crashing pell mell into me, eyes brights and cheeks pink. He tries to hand me every.single.rock at once because “they’re my rock-os, mommy” and in that moment it is important to him that I keep them safe. So I do. I put them in my pockets and day later, after these jeans have been through the washer and the dryer with a curious clunking sound, I go to put them on and find my son’s treasures still hidden in the pockets. Safe.

Snippet: Waking up in the night with a baby curled into me, a baby who is new and not new, a whole two months of knowing her behind us and an unknown number in the future that could never be enough no matter how infinite. She has learned to smile and coo and as I look at her she is doing it now, in her sleep, her soft breathing the loudest thing in the room as her tummy moves up and down and her little fists relax, for once, so that I can actually see her palms. Touching her palms makes her grasp my finger and now I am hers because she has claimed me. She smiles in her sleep and I pull her closer and she sighs a tiny baby sigh, both of us safe and secure and loved and loving in the night.

Snippet: my oldest daughter, chasing me through the house. We have an ongoing duel of pranks and scares and in this moment, I have just scared her and she is set on revenge. We run and chase and run some more and I wonder about when she got so fast and how easily she is almost catching me and how long her legs are and how tall she is now, how almost-grown she is even as she plays still like a child. I duck and dodge and we laugh and try not to trip over so many toys scattered through the rooms. A door goes slam and on the other side she’s laughing, trying to tease me into coming out so that she can have her revenge. Ransom notes get passed under the door and neither side is winning but then it’s dinnertime and truce is called.

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

    
    
    
    
    
    
 

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Three weeks old!

And my, how the time is flying.

My mom left on Saturday, which was a very bittersweet thing. After 5 weeks of her being here (the longest I’ve seen her since I moved out to the midwest!) it was hard to transition to her being gone, but also nice to have our space back. She and I bicker like sisters, but I still enjoy having her around and more importantly, so do the kids. Pax, in particular, was pretty sad when she left- he kept saying “Grandma go byebye on airplane?” and looking all sad. Sorry, bud. You’ll see her at Christmas! She was so helpful while she was here but now that she is gone, it is also nice to get down to the business of being a family of five.

Thing One is also back to school now, which means summer is well and truly over. She’s in fourth grade this year and neither one of us can quite believe where time is going! Both her and big brother are getting big, fast- Pax will be THREE in less than two months! When did that happen?!

And then of course, there’s baby girl. She’s all of three weeks old (as of yesterday) and we’re starting to see a little bit of personality emerge. Overall, she seems like a pretty calm baby. She still sleeps most of the day but when she’s awake, she’s quiet and alert and just checking out the sights.  She’s getting bigger too- yesterday we packed up all her newborn outfits and took out the 0-3 months stuff. Lots of cute outfits I’m sad to see go but lots of cute outfits yet to wear as well! She was 8lb 13oz at her most recent doctor appointment. 

Today we took her to a baby massage class at the local chiropractor’s, and man, did she love it. I have never seen her so relaxed! She basically just melted into the table while we massaged all over. She is going to be so spoiled.๐Ÿ™‚

A week or so ago, she had a doctor’s appointment at an ENT. She had a lip tie that was causing some problems with nursing and latching and needed taken care of, and also a little skin tag by her ear that we had removed. The procedures went pretty well, overall- the worst part was seeing them inject numbing medications with a huge needle into her teeny tiny self! She SCREAMED. But then during the actual cutting, she was fine and it was over quickly. They said neither site will scar and she should recover quickly- I hope so and I’m glad to have that behind us. 

As for Wifey, she is still having some baby blues. We’re hoping they fade away as the hormones die down, because she’s been pretty miserable on and off here. She has good days but then she has crying-jag days where she’s tearful on and off all day. At this point, I’m not sure if it’s baby blues or postpartum depression so if it continues we’ll probably have her see someone. It’s hard seeing her be so sad- during a time when she should be blissfully happy. I hope somehow she can get back on track.

My nursing job hunt continues. I am THIS close to landing a job- I’ve done the interview, they had me come in to shadow, and all my references were turned in as of yesterday, so now it’s just waiting game to see if/when they call back. Cross your everything for me please! Our family really needs me to have a job now! (EDIT: not five minutes after posting this, I got a call that I got the job!!!! Wahoooo!)

And of course, pictures. Life is pretty sweet, overall. New baby, wonderful kids, loving wife and my favorite season is right around the corner… yeah, life is sweet.

Big sister little sister: Thing One loves her baby sis! She helps so much with her and wants to hold her all the time. So cute. 
Big brother little sister: Pax still isn’t sure what to think of this strange new creature. He’s pretty sweet with her most of the time- he will pat her head gently or put her paci back in her mouth if she’s lost it. He also gets jealous though and will try to climb up in our laps if we are holding her or sometimes throw things at her!  Overall it’s what I would expect for a two year old new big brother.
 
Grandma and her three grandbabies:

   
Thing One on her first day of kindergarten, left, and her first day of fourth grade, right. So grown!

 
Pax in his cupcake pjs. These were originally going to be a present for his cousin but he found them and insisted we put them on him, and then got so excited about his “cupcakes” that we let him have them. Little stinker.

   
Today during baby massage. She just melted into the table!

 
Don’t let her fool you: she rarely, if ever, sleeps here. She prefers to sleep on a mom, thankyouverymuch.

   
Sleeping in her carseat:

   
Somewhere in the middle of all the chaos, I decided it would be a good time to take up running and try to lose some weight. I hate running but I’m using this app called couch to 5k where it basically trains you to run. Yay. #sweatyselfie

  

My mama and I, dropping her off at the airport.  
The skin tag we had removed.

  

Pretty baby!

As I said: sleeping on a mom!  
  

Big brother sleeping in his carseat. So big! 

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Two weeks!

Just a quickie post- two weeks have flown by! Last night was our roughest night of sleep yet- lil’ miss decided she was going to sleep all day yesterday and then party all night. Not a lot of fun for moms! The good news is, she’s cute and adorable and I have a feeling that’s going to get her out of a lot of trouble as the years go on. 

  

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In the meantime…

Although adding a new child to our family is all-encompassing and spotlight-stealing (and rightfully so!), it is not the ONLY thing we have had going on around here at Casa Lezbemoms. In fact, we have been busy busy busy over here!

I guess the biggest piece of news is that I graduated nursing school in July! It wasn’t a smooth glide to the finish though. During my Capstone (culiminating clinical experience) I had a pretty rough ride with a preceptor who basically was emotionally abusive and thought I was completely incompetent! It was bad- she contacted my nursing school about me to complain without telling me and my nursing school believed her, at first. As time went on and my instructors were able to do site visits and meet with me and her, they eventually realized that I am NOT a complete bumbling idiot (and really, I had 4 semesters of above-average clinical reviews to back me up on that!) and switched my preceptor to someone less emotionally abusive. After that, I was able to finish out nursing school pretty smoothly, with the exception of the fact that Shiloh was born the week I had to do my last 20 hours of Capstone clinicals! Because I was at the end of my program, I had zero flexibility to reschedule my hours and basically had to show up or not graduate. So, she was born at 6:52 pm on Tuesday night, I stayed the night in the hospital with her and Wifey, and then at 7am Wednesday morning I reported to the fourth floor of the same hospital to do a 12 hour clinical shift! Got that done, went back to our room on the baby floor, spent the night again with my family and repeated the next day. It was rough and I felt bad that I wasn’t able to help much with Shiloh in the hospital, but ultimately I got those clinical hours done. I also had to reschedule two finals because she was born the day I was supposed to take them- but I was able to take those on Friday and finish out nursing school on schedule. What a relief! So now, the job hunt is on- I have had one interview and applied for a few more jobs so I’m hoping something comes through so I can get my foot in the door.

Speaking of school, Thing One starts her school on Tuesday of next week! She is not too excited about it, haha. She would rather stay at home and swim all day than go back to school… it’s rough, being ten years old!

And, my mom has been here for a MONTH. This is the longest we’ve seen each other for in six years. She came early in July so she could be here for Shiloh’s birth, and then has stayed to help take care of kids and ease our transition into being a 5-person household. Though i am very appreciative of her help, it hasn’t always been easy. She can be a very critical person and a lot of times this trip, that criticism has been directed towards me. So, it’s been kind of touch and go as far as us getting along and her visit going smoothly go- but overall I am glad she is here and the kids, of course, have loved having their Grandma around. She is here for one more week before she has to fly home and we are hoping to make the best of that week!

I think that’s about it for the general craziness happening around here… Until next time, blogland!

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When a Week is a Lifetime

It is so, so hard to believe that just last week, we hadn’t yet met our youngest daughter. Just last week, we didn’t have three children, we had two. Just last week, we didn’t have two daughters, we had one. What a week it’s been.

This past week has felt like a lifetime- and it has, quite literally, been Shiloh’s entire lifetime. I hope it’s been a good one so far. We have kissed, hugged, and snuggled. We have coo’ed, sang, shushed, and patted. We have sniffed a baby head and kissed baby feet and had countless visitors come over to help us welcome our sweet girl into the world. We have taken every opportunity available to get to know our daughter, and she, us.

The sweetest moments for me this week have come while watching brother-sister-sister interactions. Both kids have taken to Shiloh in loving and sweet ways. Thing One is interested in being Mommy’s Helper and doing everything we do with Shiloh, up to and including wanting to change diapers (brave girl!). She picks out Shiloh’s outfits and helps fetch things and has generally been a huge help. As for Pax, he is curious about all things baby. We have been teaching him as we go how to interact with Shiloh- teaching him to be gentle with the baby, not to roll on her, and to be careful when climbing on a mom’s lap when there is also a baby on that lap. Overall, it’s going great and I think he’s adjusting well to being a big brother. I am certainly enjoying watching the transition. To see Pax gently pat Shiloh’s head and have him call her “me baby,” and to imagine the years they have ahead of them as playmates and siblings… my heart swells with joy. Seeing Thing One’s own joy at finally having a sister (she wanted Pax to be a girl!) also multiplies my own. Overall, I think it is safe to say that this little girl is more than welcome in this family! I feel like our family is complete now, like we were just waiting for her to come along to make us whole. I love having three children now!

Now, all this sunshine and roses is not to say that the entire week has always been an easy one. My wife, it seems, is suffering from a little bit of postpartum blues, and that subject is something that I think gets talked about not a lot. Who wants to talk about things that are sad when there is a cuddly baby to discuss instead? Nevertheless, the reality if that in between baby cuddles and sibling love, there have been tears and crying jags. My wife has tearfully told me more than once that she wasn’t sure why she was crying or felt sad, she just did. Hopefully it’s just the postpartum hormone changes and nothing major- and it does already seem to be fading out and getting better. I hope that with even more time to adjust to life postpartum, my poor wifey can be fully 100% on board the joy train and leave all the tears and sad spells in the past.

Overall, things are going very well. I’m so glad to finally have baby girl HERE and cuddleable.๐Ÿ™‚

PS: pics below are preview pics from our photo shoot yesterday, and also just pics of life with a newborn.๐Ÿ™‚
   
    
    
    
    
    
   

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Guess who’s here?

Introducing Shiloh Michelle!

 

7lb13oz, 19inches long. Our princess.๐Ÿ™‚

 
She ended up being born at 6:53pm on 7/28, more than 20 hours after we were first admitted to the floor. She came out screaming and sunny side up, which surprised everyone. 

Shiloh means Tranquility and we already have a son whose name means Peace. Michelle is my mother’s name and was a complete surprise to my mom when we announced it.

The kids have met her and everyone loves everyone. Moms are exhausted. More to come but for now, baby pictures! 

    
    
 

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Update

Well, still no baby. It took quite a long time for her contractions to get started once her water broke. We were trying to do this as naturally as possible, but after twelve hours of no contractions and no cervical change, we opted to go ahead and start pitocin. Since starting it, she’s been pretty miserable but her contractions have started and are getting stronger and closer together. Hopefully this helps.

Hour 18 here. Getting anxious to meet baby girl!

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Baby’s Comin’ =)

Wifey’s water broke tonight! She was laying in bed while I was in the other room and I thought I heard her yelling for me. I texted her to see if it was her yelling at me or not and didn’t get a response, so I went running back there… and when I got to our bedroom she told me we were going to the hospital because her water had broken! FINALLY!!!

We said goodbye to Thing One, a (sleeping) Pax, and my mom (who is in town and will be watching them), and off we went to the hospital! Hospital is only ten minutes from our house and I might have been speeding a little bit๐Ÿ˜‰ so we got here in record time. Got checked, admitted, and now we wait!

Contractions are still far apart and nothing exciting yet- it’s 2 am and we’re both thinking about taking a nap while we can. But, there is a baby at the end of all this and she will be here relatively soon! Excited!

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