Thursday, February 25, 2010

What to do?!

So, the job I thought I had in December never worked out. Poo. I've been applying more and more since, convinced I no longer wanted to do the same thing I've been doing for the past seven years. And then the tides once again change.

Sudden renewed interest in the school is bringing visitors every week. And they like what they see. We have a nice start to a waiting list now for next year.

And I got a call today about a potential client.

But I wanted change. I'm so ready for it. So what to do now. Throw everything into the businesses one more time? Break and find something new? I don't know what will happen. The suspense is about to kill me!

PS - Please keep our friend Sydney in your thoughts and prayers. She's three and has HRHS (half a heart, essentially) and has been having a lot of medical issues recently.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Full Range of Emotions

Those who know me know I'm not an overly emotional person. Sure, I'll tear up like any other chick over 'The Notebook,' but when it comes to having a good cry or feeling overly elated, those emotions are few and far between. In fact, when trauma and drama hit, it takes me weeks, sometimes months or years to dig down deep enough to understand how I'm truly feeling.

I've found this week, however, I'm teetering constantly on the edge of emotion. Giddy about the new paths opening up in life - everything's about to change, and I'm ready to open and embrace it. I've been living in the shadows for years, it feels like, and it feels good to begin to feel more a part of the world again.

But there are also some deep, sad emotions that I neglected for too long that have been brewing into a very strong concoction. The last year (well, really, the last few) was a tough one - lots of loss, on many levels. All year I kept plugging through thinking something new, something great was around the corner if I could just keep my chin up. And for the most part, I did. Only when January came did I really begin to think about the path of the previous year. And for some reason it makes me sad to think about it. I'm missing loved ones I lost, I'm missing some small components of life that will never be the same and more than anything, I'm bummed about how much the girls grew and changed without my seeming to have noticed it. It just all happened so fast.

That's not to say the year was not without great things. Of course my girls and the joy they bring me every single day are the most important part of that, but there were also the wonderful  friends that I grew closer to than ever, and who are constants in my life now. I felt surrounded by love and friendship in my worst moments, and was thankful to be able to return the favor. Many of these friends had even worse years than I did. Yet we all find a million reasons to laugh each time we're together. And I renewed a lot of old friendships that had been neglected for years, too. It felt good to reconnect - it's been hard working from home for more than 7 years and feeling so... alone.

The other day I put a quote on FaceBook that sums up where I am right now...

"And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin

I'm ready to open up and embrace life fully again. So, if I'm suddenly teary around you for what appears to be no reason at all, bear with me. I'm kind of digging these new found emotions - and am trying not to put my feelings at bay any longer. For years I tried to stave them off - like they were a sign of weakness. It's time to let go and bloom.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Bonding with Sadie

It's CHD Awareness Week, which I have been actively involved with for the past three years. This year, however, I did nothing to prepare, and I have to admit, I've let the CHD Blog run far behind in posts. But it's for a good reason. I've been bonding with the very reason that brought me into the nightmare world of CHD.

Having a baby you can't hold in the early days has a huge impact on your ability to bond. Ask any parent of a premie who's hospitalized a long time, or anyone who has a child with a chronic, life threatening illness in the early days. Sadie missed out on those early caresses - I couldn't touch her for more than a week beyond brushing a fingertip across her hair without her heart racing. I didn't hold her until she was almost three weeks old. She could not tolerate touch, really, for months, unless she was bundled tightly to minimize it, and bounced to draw her attention away from the fact she was being held. It's difficult to bond under those circumstances.

And that's part of the reason I have been such a 'warrior' about Congenital Heart Defect Awareness. I felt so robbed. If she had been diagnosed, as she SHOULD HAVE been prior to birth, I wouldn't have lost as many days as she stabilized. I have felt that the lack of knowledge, the lack of simple tests, had cost me the bond with my baby. And I was pissed about it. And when I get pissed, I take action to make changes. I don't know what caused this to be my genetic makeup, but it's what happens when I'm faced with something I can't understand, or I think is wrong, or I feel I can make better.

I always felt so awful about not having that special bond with Sadie that I had with Katie in her early years. I craved those moments I'd had with Katie as a newborn - when she'd gaze up from nursing into my eyes and just stare. How she'd snuggle into me and fall fast asleep. How she smiled in those early weeks. With Sadie, it just didn't happen. Every day was a battle. I was, to be honest, disappointed. Let down. Sad.

That's not to say I don't love Sadie more than I can express. I love her so very, very much - coming so close to losing someone makes you realize how much you want them to be in your life. I would content myself with watching her sleep (when she did). Time marched on, and month by month she became a little easier to deal with - allowing me to touch her without crying. Eventually making eye contact. Hugging. Kissing. She became a fairly normal toddler - full of moxy, highly temperamental, but funny and sweet. Still, we didn't have "that" bond.

All of a sudden, three and a half years later, it has finally happened. In fact, I can almost name the moment. We went out on our first mommy-daughter date to the movies a month or two ago, and we sat. We chatted. And the communication began to grow. Now she's attached to my hip (literally, she's sitting her on the couch beside me, on my hip as I type), snuggling constantly and telling me how much she loves me a hundred times a day. And each time I tear up a little bit, so thankful for these moments that were so long in coming.

As for CHD Awareness, I will continue to promote the need for better testing - simple tests can save lives, and maybe even just one mom can have more of a bond with their baby than I was able to have. So I'll champion it. But I won't be putting the hours into it this year. It is time for me to step back and be thankful. To hang up the gloves I've had to keep on to fight for so long for Sadie, and just enjoy her and revel in my new found bond.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Worst. Dog. Ever.

I don't know what decision process I used when I decided that we should have a new animal in our house. After all, we have a plethora of fish and a Pitbull-German Shepherd mix that take up a large portion of our tiny Cape Cod. But Carly (the German PitHerd) was so sad after Darla passed, I just felt bad. She moped. She quit playing. She hated going outside alone. And so I looked. And looked. And looked for the right dog. As I looked I came to realize why I couldn't find the right dog. None of them were Darla. And man, I missed Darla. She was such a great dog. I loved how her tail was always wagging, up until the very end. I loved how she loved everyone. I loved her love grunts, her playful spirit, her gentle ways with the girls. She was the best dog ever, and I finally realized I'd never find a replacement for that.

So, I finally caved when I came across a hound rescue. She had long ears and sad eyes, much like Darla, but the semblance stopped there. This new dog was timid, submissive, clearly had been abused and/or neglected and was big and skinny. I liked her ok, but frankly, wasn't sold when I met her. We came home and talked about it, and Sadie wasn't sold either. But for some reason, we ended up going back the next day to get her.

Since coming home we discovered that the new dog, which we named Lucy after a Beatles song (the stars were shining when we met her), is in fact an American Foxhound. Apparently a full breed. Which means she'll be big, she isn't a house dog and she's hard to train. In fact, here's the description I found on a breed site.

This breed can be difficult to housebreak. Be aware, the American Foxhound will take off after an interesting scent if they get a chance. They like to bay and have a melodious bark, so much so, in fact, that its tones have been used in popular songs. Foxhounds don't always make good house pets, due to their history as outdoor pack kennel hounds. If you are looking for a pet, whom you are not going to take hunting, try show lines rather than field types. 

Of course I had no idea she was a Foxhound. In fact, I didn't know what a Foxhound was, to be honest. I only read this after two weeks of absolute hell with the new dog. She pees indoors at least 3 times a day. She escapes and runs for miles every chance she gets. She can jump a 6' privacy fence. She eats and drinks nonstop. She will not come when called. In fact, she runs in the opposite direction as fast as she can - and she is F.A.S.T. I resorted to buying an aerial run line for her to keep her in the yard. She resorted in chewing through her harness and escaping, chewing through the metal wire braided tether and escaping, or baying at the top of her lungs until my neighbors were yelling at her and I was ready to beat her to death. Not that I'd really hurt her. But the thought definitely crossed my mind more than once this past month.

Just what I needed during this time of financial stress, emotional upheaval and change. A stupid dog that doesn't listen and destroys my home. She's about to push me over the edge. So much so that I ended up calling the SPCA to see if I could surrender her or get some help with doggie rehab. They gave me great literature and guidance, and dropped the bomb - they think she is a feral dog. Her submissive behavior, fear of men, lack of social skills with humans and overall bad behavior are all signs of a dog that has not been raised by humans. Coupled with her breed's lack of "home manners" it's the perfect storm for a bad dog outcome. Awesome.

So I have a feral hound that is going to be twice the size of what I had thought I was getting. She's younger than we thought (5 months or so), which is good - because she may be trainable, but bad because we aren't even CLOSE to the conclusion of the chewing stage. Today, for example, it was one of my favorite childhood stuffed animals the girls left out, one slipper, a hat and a glove. Oh, and another gigantic hole in her doggie bed. She rivals John Grogan's infamous Marley.

I'm giving this animal two weeks, using the SPCA guidelines and assistance for training. She's being crated whenever she's in the house and not under my direct attention. She's being walked on a leash about eight times a day. I'm running her with Carly 2-3 times a day. We're going through a million treats as we work on the simple commands, "come," "sit" and "go to your crate." She's taking hours of my day that I didn't have to begin with.

But, I did discover she gives love grunts (gives an ooooumph when you hug her and leans into you). And she's extremely gentle and loves children. She loves to cuddle. Much like my dear departed Darla. It's the only reason she's getting another chance.