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Archive for March, 2009

Unfriended

I’ve been unfriended.  On FB.  By a guy from college that we had, um, an interesting love/hate relationship for all 5+ of my undergrad years. 

Honestly I was surprised when he accepted my friendship request.  While we had lots in common, we weren’t really close emotionally in college.  Ours was more of a hanging out, being stupid and living on the edge. 

I used to credit myself with being the last woman he cheated on another woman with before he married.  But I realize now just how childish that thought is.  I also realize just how immature I was during our entire “relationship”.

When we first “friended” again via FB, we started chatting.  Turns out I actually liked him on a personal level.  I respected his opinions and ideas  – something I never gave him time to express during undergrad.  As I said, I was quite immature then.  I thought I knew what he was thinking and maybe I did.  He was quite a player.  And in retrospect, perhaps I was too.

Then we started playing silly word games together.  Not as in conversations and such, but actual word games like scrab*le and such.  I looked forward to logging in to see if he had played his turn.

He’s very intelligent.

And he’s a man of God. 

I also used to think I had something to do with him becoming a man of God.  Maybe I did – after all, I did help him get the job in the recycling office which payed a good stipend for his graduate studies at the seminary.  But to think I was so important … well, again, I was immature.

He recently took a hiatus from FB.  Not sure why.  We haven’t really spoken in months.  Seems like after we both returned from summer vacation last year, we just kept our distance.  I was okay with that. 

I recently made a comment though that must have upset him.  And while I was a bit hurt that he didn’t call me out and tell me he was unfriending me, I’m not surprised.  In fact, I figured it was just a matter of time.

Now, I’ve unfriended people before on FB.  But for me, it was never someone I had a true, honest to goodness, in real life relationship with.  Rather, it was individuals who I’d discovered I had nothing in common with and well, I didn’t think they would notice.  Maybe they did.  Maybe I hurt them.  I hope not.

What do you think?  Have you ever been defriended online by someone you knew personally in the past?  How did you feel?  Hmm …

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Back then, I wanted privacy.  I didn’t feel ready to write for just anyone to read.

Last night, I made a decision to un-password protect my pregnancy updates.

I just did that.  I un-password protected them.  They’re still in the history, but if you want to look back to read how this pregnancy progressed, my multiple hospital stays, non-stress tests, blood work (my arms still have track marks from all the IVs and lab work done), etc. feel free.

If not, okay by me.  🙂

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Memorial Day weekend, 2006, Bubba Joe came home from the hospital.  The weather was beautiful.  Spring had sprung in Ohio and the color green was everywhere.  BJD and I were anxious and excited.

But we had no clue what we were doing.

While Bubba Joe had relatively no to normal complications for a preemie – he was born at 34 weeks gestation, required no breathing assistance, needed to learn to eat while breathing (meaning he had a NG tube down his nose), and jaundice that required 5 days of lights – we had no idea what being a preemie parent meant.

Or how different it would be to have a full-termer.

You see, while Bubba Joe had little NICU time, he has since had lots of issues – mostly stemming from his weakened immune system.  I’m sure I’ve talked about this before, so I won’t go into all the details.  But at nearly 3 years of age, we (BJD and I) are exhausted with Bubba Joe always getting sick.  We’ve gone to a homeopath here in Germany who has started a regimine of meds to strengthen his immune system.  We just started it so we’ll keep ya’ll up to date.

The point of all this is I never realized how hard, difficult, no, how stressful life was as a preemie parent was.  Especially those first few weeks.  You see, we had to wake him to eat.  I had to pump after nursing (and kept track of how much he took from either side), give him a bottle of expressed milk, daily vitamins, clean the pump parts for next time and get rid of all the gas, all the while hoping we hadn’t overstimulated him, making it that much more difficult to settle him (and hence, allow for a decent rest time for us). 

In short, it sucked.

With SoJo (maybe that’s the name I’ll use for little girl – or SJ for short) it’s all different.  When she started having lots of gas, I freaked.  Yup. I freaked.  Was she also allergic to milk protein like her brother?  Was she also colicky like her brother?  Did she also have reflux that will require meds like her brother?

When she started spitting up through/out her nose, I freaked.  Had we exposed her too quickly to her brother (and one of his many illnesses)?  Would she be able to breathe?  Would she have lung problems like her brother?

And I spoke with friends.  And I spoke with our midwife.  They all reassured me that SoJo is normal.  All these things – gas, spitting up including spitting up through the nose is normal.  I knew other things were normal – like switching her days and nights.  But these other issues – well, they’re all I know as a parent.

I realize now, of course because it’s hindsight, just how life was with Bubba Joe.  How I should have immediately sought out some additional support – some therapy or something – and really pushed for it.  Instead, I waited.  And I allowed myself, er, my brain to do what it does best – to overwork itself, to overthink things through, to overreact. 

Part of the difference now is definately experience.  Experience as a mom, experience as a preemie mom.  And of course, age.  Location has little to play with it, because surprisingly my inlaws provide support but I don’t think that’s what is making the difference.  Perhaps the greatest difference though is having what is called a “wochenbett” (the 8 week postpartum period) in which a midwife comes over as needed and just answers questions, provides advice and support. 

I will always be a preemie parent.  Because in spite of the fact that the issues Bubba Joe has/had can be found in full-termers, the combination of them PLUS his being born early makes it different.  Yes, your child may have been overstimulated easily, but that plus the reflux, plus the dairy allergy, plus having been born 6 weeks early … well, every situation is unique.  (And this doesn’t mean that another’s situation is easier, it simply doesn’t equal mine.)

Being a preemie parent means that I am in constant awe and amazement that things really can be well, less stressful.  As BJD said last night, it isn’t that it is easier with a full-termer, it’s that it is 50% less stressful. 

SoJo is outgrowing her newborn sized clothing (Bubba Joe was almost 3 months by the time he outgrew them).  She’s gaining weight beautifully (almost 9 pounds at 4 weeks, up from 6 pounds at birth – Bubba Joe was over 2 months age (non-adjusted) by the time he hit this weight).  She’s alert, interactive and enjoys the stimulation of being held.  She loves the swing (Bubba Joe hated it).  She loves being swaddled (Bubba Joe hated it).  She loves looking at black and white books (took a long time for Bubba Joe to be ready for that). 

And mostly, she’s just a different baby.

I am so very thankful for so many things.  Mostly, I am thankful to have the opportunity to parent a full-termer.  Would I do it again? Hmm … we’ll see.  Right now, I’m grateful to have what I have.  And I plan on enjoying it … but for this moment, I’m off to nap.  She’s asleep and Bubba Joe is going down for his nap too!

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Pictures!!!

BJD trying to comfort his little sister

BJD trying to comfort his little sister

She's officially outgrowing NB stuff
She’s officially outgrowing NB stuff
Bubba Joe - being all "cool" now that he's a big brother!

Bubba Joe - being all "cool" now that he's a big brother!

snb12806

BJD trying to comfort his little sister

BJD trying to comfort his little sister


Little MM all pretty in pink

Little MM all pretty in pink


MM in her cloth diaper

MM in her cloth diaper


Wool pants (over her cloth diaper) and a t-shirt I made that says Future Tree Hugger

Wool pants (over her cloth diaper) and a t-shirt I made that says Future Tree Hugger

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Before we moved overseas, BJD and I ensured that all legal documents were in place: last will and testament, establishing legal guardianship and living wills. 

We’ve since made the decision to change who we had originally chosen as legal guardian for our children.

In Ohio (don’t know about other states), whoever is written on that piece of paper is pretty much it.  They’re who the parents chose, they’re who the children go to.

We hired an attorney in Ohio to properly file all the paperwork.

In Germany though, it doesn’t work that way. 

Guardianship is established by the courts.  Sure, as parents, we have written out our wishes on a piece of paper, to be updated anually, with both our signatures, dates, pertinent info, etc. for legal guardianship if anything happened to the both of us. 

BUT – and here’s where I get scared/worried/concerned – the courts can override the parents’ decision.  The court (i.e. judge) can determine that the children do not know or have a relationship with the person the parents choose.  And the court can give custody to someone else.

And then, if the child is over the age of 12, well, they have a say too.

We’ve chosen my sister and brother-in-law as legal guardian.  But if anything happened to both BJD and I, they may have a legal battle on their hands.  Our inlaws here could fight for custody.  And the courts could override our wishes.

I knew having an international relationship could be complicated.  I never considered that a court would have the right to determine the best for my child without knowing me or my wishes. 

BJD spoke with an attorney here in Germany yesterday and he confirmed all this too.

… yet another thing to think about as an expat.

Now I have to go back to singing and dancing with Bubba Joe.  Little milchmmaedchen is upstairs, sleeping in her chair, while her daddy (who BTW is completely wrapped around her tiny little finger) is arbeiten (working).

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But I have no one really to talk to.  G is in Florida, S is in Japan.  BJD is great, but honest, I need someone else, someone outside of family to just listen.  So dear reader, this comes to you.

***sigh***

Where do I begin?  I’ll try to make this story short.  I’m not sure how long my little milchmaedchen (MM – milk girl – is that better J?) will hold out.

Turns out that my BIL has a kid.  Not a billy goat.  A real live child.  And said BIL has not yet finished uni – his school stopped offering his degree at the end of last year and well, he “couldn’t come up with a thesis”.  Whatever.

And said BIL still lives with his parents.  He works.  Sure.  Part-time.  As a mover.  Schlepping furniture.  He doesn’t have insurance (which is mandatory per the government here in good old Deutschland).  He’s one of those that falls through the cracks. 

Back in 2006, when we still lived in Ohio, BJD and I took pity on him.  He had recently broken up with his girlfriend, was struggling with school, has/had a drinking problem (oh yeah, dear reader, did I mention that he has a drinking problem?) and was quite overwhelmed with life.  BJD and I had accumulated LOTS of miles flying for both work and pleasure (remember, we were DINKs – I still cringe when I type it but well, the acronym suits).  We used 100,000 miles and bought him a ticket to fly out to visit.  Even found him an ESL course to take in our hometown.

And what do we get for it? 

Nothing.

No thanks, nothing.

We had hoped for none of that though – all we wanted was to give him a chance to rejuvinate.  To feel better about himself.  To give him what he needed to push through to the end of his degree. 

3 years later – same sad story.  Only now, it’s compounded by the fact that he has a 2 year old son. 

Oh, he’s fought custody.  DNA proved it.  He has nothing to do with the child. 

Why is this bothering me so much?  Because it’s the damned elephant sitting in the middle of the room.  My entire family here AVOIDS this subject.  They refuse to admit that there is a little boy out there that is family.  And moreso, and to me this is far worse, they continue to allow my BIL to be a slacker, a loser and a deadbeat dad.

I’m horrified.

You see, I love and adore my inlaws.  They’re have their querks (dude, how the heck do you spell that???) but they’ve been my rock for so many years now.  Quirks? Qwerks?  Really, how do you spell that?

BJD and I had originally set up my BIL as guardian for our child(ren).  Since finding out about this child though, we’ve changed it.  And just yesterday, BJD took the bull by the horns and finally told his brother.  On the phone.  And while you might find that a crappy way to tell someone, sorry dude you’re not who we want anymore in case anything happens, we just don’t have time to sit him down (and well, we’d have to find the time when he was sober – that was a definate low blow from me) face to face.  And more importantly, it’s very hard to balance 2 kids and recovery from birth/c-section/complicated pregnancy.

Let’s just say that BIL didn’t take it too well.  How do I know?  Well, my inlaws are avoiding us.  Oh, not my SIL, she’s too passive to take a stand.  (Side note: she’s known about this child since the beginning.  Why is that important to me? She’s never once shared this  in any shape or form.  And worse yet, she’s just not the type to encourage her own brother to do the right thing.  I have so little respect for that.  Am I being too hard?)

Why is it that they avoid this child?  Why do they accept what my BIL says even when it’s (IMO) morally wrong?

Ugh – gotta run.  Bubba Joe is potty training.  Guess where he just went?

More later.

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*** found this is my draft folder …

Not too much exciting going on. 

Bubba Joe is fighting off yet another cold.  Since about 3 months of age, he’s had a cold every 4 weeks.  This is only the 2nd time since he was 3 months old that the cold has remained a simple cold.  It’s usually progressed into a severe ear infection (he’s ruptured his ear drums before – ouch!) or since his lovely RSV bout, into his lungs.  But so far, so good!  Yeah!!!

BJD and I ran errands today.  The post office, the drug store (DM for you German-based folks), Lidl (like Aldi’s), and then we hit a kid’s flea market to see if we could find a bassinett or any miscellaneous baby stuff we still need.

Nope.  Nothing there.  Well, nothing but pure madness!  We walked through, er, pushed our way back out then sat down and had some cake.  Yum.  Me, I had 2 pieces – I just love me some German kuechen!

Baby girl is hanging in there.  I’m 32 weeks.  And feeling okay.  I know I did a bit much today, but I’m back to resting. 

I changed the pic at the top – G didn’t like it much.  It was a picture of the tree branch (yup, it was only a branch) that fell onto our property during a major windstorm last year just  before closing.  Yeah, that was fun – dealing with insurance and what not from overseas.  🙂

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