Feb 12, 2017: Ups and Downs

 

Hello, all! Hope you’ve all had a good week! Ours has been…good and not so good. Lots of ups and downs, ending at least on an up….

First of all, recovery. That’s been up and down. In some ways, it has gone very well—no complications! But I have also learned that digesting food is not fun at all, so as of last night, I’m on a self-imposed liquid diet.

It’s funny—my doctor told me all of the dreadful complications that can occur. Damaged bladder, infection, DEATH…but she neglected to tell me that I ought to eat a liquid diet for a while after the surgery! I did just fine for the first couple of days (though granted, I ate mostly ice cream!), but in the last few days it’s gotten excruciating to digest food. I don’t think there’s anything wrong—I don’t have a fever, and when I’m not digesting food, I feel just fine! It’s just that when I eat food and it starts to work its way through my system…ugh. It’s not pretty. I muffle my screams in a towel sometimes.

So yeah, liquid diet. Can’t complain about having to drink milkshakes, I guess. (I realize milkshakes sound very unhealthy, but I can’t drink protein shakes—almost all of them have xanthan gum or guar gum in them, and I can’t digest either of those. They have the same effect on me as gluten. For whatever reason, dairy doesn’t bother me. So yeah…milkshakes. Or maybe fruit smoothies, if I’m ambitious enough to make them.)

All in all, I’d rate this recovery right smack in between my two others. Recovering from Theo’s birth was brutal—I couldn’t walk without pain for seven weeks. Recovering from my C-section with Sam was an absolute breeze—I barely had any pain! This one is right smack in the middle of the two. Not too bad, but the digesting food part is quite unpleasant!

Speaking of recovery, a good friend of mine texted me before the surgery and said that if I needed to talk afterward, she’d be happy to listen. Apparently post-surgical depression is a thing, and she had been surprised by it after a surgery she had.

Um…yeah. I did fine surgery-wise, meaning I wasn’t depressed about the surgery, I didn’t wake up mourning the complete and final loss of my ability to bear children, etc. But I went into a total funk in the later part of the week about everything else, and I would assume the complete breakdown in which I sobbed harder than I’ve cried in forever was in part due to crazy post-surgical hormones.

On the surface, it was about everything else. We registered Sam for kindergarten on the same day that Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education. You can click here for my post on that if you’re so inclined—but suffice it to say, I was devastated. Mostly because I felt like so many citizens worked together—regardless of party—to reach out to their senators and beg them to not confirm her because she is woefully unqualified. And it made no difference at all. Not a bit. (Though several days out, I can say that at least the senators are aware of how utterly disgusted their constituents are, so I suppose it’s not no difference. But it felt like no difference when, with the exception of two senators, everyone else just voted along party lines, even knowing that the woman is unqualified. Here’s a post that I read this and thought encapsulated a lot of my concerns well. It’s a touch snarky, but I think the author’s points are worth reading.)

It was also that Chris handled school drop-off for a week, and for the first four days the boys were angels for him. I struggle to get them out the door on time every morning, and one of them (probably not the one you’d expect!) fights me tooth and nail on everything, which always makes us late. Chris had no problem at all, which left me feeling like a totally inept mother. (They gave him the full treatment on Friday, though, and he got a taste of what it’s usually like. His theory is that they took it easy on him the first four days of the week because it was novel—Daddy doesn’t usually take them to school! My theory, in my depressed state, was that I just can’t do anything right!)

And it was that the sports series I’ve been working on came crashing down around me, and I had to quit the series. I have never quit a project. Ever! I always see things through to the end! But it had gotten to be a ridiculous mess. Long story made as short as possible: I’m working with a middleman on that series. (Or I was, anyway.) The middleman gave me instructions on what the publisher wanted for the books. So I wrote a book, and the middleman thought it wasn’t what the publisher wanted and tried to “fix” it. She then submitted it to the publisher…who hated it. So back to the drawing board. I went back to my original concept, took all of the publisher’s feedback, and tried to create the book they wanted. I then applied that to the other five books in the series. They wouldn’t even look at my manuscript, but only wanted to look at my outlines. I’m not an outline person and begged them to just look over a manuscript and give me feedback based on that. (The manuscripts are only ten double-spaced pages each; they are shorter than my blog posts! This would not take long.) They wouldn’t, so I reverse-engineered outlines based on my manuscripts. Instead, they tore apart my outlines and sent me back to the drawing board again, but with all sorts of conflicting information. (“There’s too many personal stories. But we want case studies! More personal stories, please!” “There are too many pull quotes. No wait, we want the pull quotes! Put them all back, please!” “We don’t want all six books to look the same. But wait—we need you to write them all the same!”)

By this point I had spent forty hours working on the books, and my bottom line was beginning to creep toward minimum wage territory. When I saw they wanted me to redo all the books again, but their guidance wasn’t clear on what they wanted, I threw up my hands. If I started from scratch and spent another forty hours on it, I’d be making less than minimum wage. And ignoring projects that do pay the bills. And frankly, I can only sit at the computer for an hour or two at a time right now, so I just can’t be wasting what sitting-up time I do have.

So I sat down, cried, and typed out an “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’m the right author to finish this project” email. Which I’ve never done before and hope never to do again. And felt like a failure for wasting forty precious hours of time that I should’ve spent on other projects.

And then lastly, there was the issue of Sam’s childcare when he starts kindergarten. That is weighing hugely on me; click here to read about the dilemma.

And so all that crashed in on me, and I cried and cried and cried and said stupid things like, “If I can’t do anything right, what’s the point of me even being here?!”

Yeah, it was a low. A very big low. I have to think that if I wasn’t dealing with post-surgical things, I might’ve reacted better to all of this. Anyway, I’m now climbing back out of that low. This morning I got a nice email from the middleman who I was working with on the sports books—I’m also working with her on a series of books about immigration, and she told me how much she’s enjoying those books and thinks that they’re well written. That made me feel better because as much as I am frustrated with the publisher’s lack of clear guidance on the sports books, I really didn’t want the middleman thinking I’m some horrible author who can’t complete a project!

And yesterday, I got the bright idea to reach out to the autism parents’ group I’m part of on Facebook. My love/hate relationship with Facebook paid off. I was actually thinking of taking a little FB break because the news on it lately terrifies and depresses me. But I’m glad I didn’t, because when I reached out to the autism group about our dilemma with Sam’s childcare, several of them replied with a solution that I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of: There’s an appeals process with Regional Center, so I can appeal their ruling that people who work at home don’t need childcare. (Many autistic kids are also Regional Center clients, which is why I reached out to those parents—there are a lot of older kids in that group, and I thought some parents might have been through a similar situation. Indeed a couple had.)

So I’ll be appealing. I don’t really know how it works, but a parent sent me a link to an appeals form to start the process. And actually, in going through their paperwork, I realized that Chris and I qualify for a lot of assistance from the Regional Center, based on income—we’re also asking them for Theo to be included in a specific summer day camp we’ve heard great things about, and they gave us the income sheet to figure out our contribution. Based on our family income, we are eligible for 85 percent assistance from them! So as much as I struggle with not wanting to “take advantage of the system,” I realize that as far as the government is concerned, we are in quite a low income bracket for this area of the state, so I probably shouldn’t feel guilty.

As for DeVos, she’s now in and there’s nothing I can do about it. So, I plan to focus my advocacy efforts on the state level, since the feds seem to have no interest in listening to their constituents. Plus, Trump and DeVos want to transfer more control of education to the states, so my advocacy efforts are probably best used at the state level anyway. And for the record, I can’t say I support protestors blocking DeVos from entering a school at the later part of this past week. She’s in office now, and I may not like it, but I respect that she’s in the office, and we have to deal with her. I just hope people can open her eyes to the damage some of her propositions can do to certain student populations if she’s not careful.

And as for feeling like a lousy mother because the boys are a handful to get to school…well, I’m just going to have to keep working on that one. One of them is actually fine and just hard to focus on things like eating breakfast and getting shoes on. The other one has plenty of focus but likes to protest everything because he’d prefer to just relax at home! (Naturally, the minute he walks into his classroom and sees his friends and teachers, he’s all smiles and doesn’t even bother to look back at Mom!)

So we’re moving onward and upward. My liquid diet will fortify me!

On Saturday, we finally ventured out of the house. All that rain made for a glorious, sunny weekend, with clear skies and beautiful emerald-green grasses everywhere. I’m not up for too much yet, but we did manage to eat some pizza and go to the park. (The pizza wasn’t a good idea for me, but the park was!) And today, Sunday, Theo has a birthday party at a ranch in the area. They’re going to learn to build teepees and make s’mores, so that should be fun for him. Meanwhile, Chris and Sam and I will run an errand and eat some (liquid for me) lunch!

I hope you are all well. Not too many pictures this week, but a few. And if you missed Sam’s birthday post, be sure to click here to read it!

My sweet, snuggly pug!

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And my sweet, snuggly kitty!

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Also Sam, wrapped up like a pretzel:

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Leggings are the BOMB when you have incisions on your waistline and don’t want to wear pants with a tight waistband!

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Chris and I had a date night on Friday, before I figured out that I ought not eat solid food. We FINALLY found a good sushi place here! Only took us five years…

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The sky and grass really are that glorious blue and green right now, thanks to all of our rain!

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