The continuing adventures of Kif, who is occassionally a single mother of two kids, occassionally a common-law wife with six kids, occassionally employed, and often either injured or ill.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The good, the bad and the painfully swollen breasts

So, as the true-life medical drama that is my life continues, I have discovered a whole new complaint:

During my birthday phonecall Laure complained about a photo Mom had taken of me - I was repeatedly instructed to eat cheeseburgers. I figured I was around 115-120lbs - too thin, but not freakishly so. It wouldn't take long to get back up to my preferred weight, c.125-130lbs. After all, lack of cheeseburgers was not the problem. Steve spent nearly a decade working as a short-order cook. He does food, lots of it, and can be relied upon to deep fat fry most of it. So then a friend who was moving gave me a scale. Cool, the kids'll like it. I hopped on. 105lbs. I'm not sure if you know what 102lbs looks like on a 5'7" frame, but it ain't good. You might think it's model-skinny but I don't want to be an ambulatory clothes hanger and those girls get airbrushing and professional makeup. In real life 105/5'7" is knobby knees and hip bones and my ass is gone, just plain gone.

So we tried a more generous, fattier diet. Gauge gained a pound. I went down to 102. And still so far all the docs can find is low iron in my blood. So three days ago after much discussion and a few tears, I decided that I had to put Squish on formula. Whatever is going on, whether it's a problem or just some sort of hormonal/metabolic transition, I just couldn't do breastfeeding anymore. I'm back up to 105 now... and I think most of that is just boobs. I have turned into a toothpick with pornstar boobs. Except they mustn't be touched, or breathed upon, or looked at too strongly. Owie. It'll pass.

Squish did not like the change at first - none of them do - but he's now taken to bottle feeding with gusto. As have I, oddly enough. Mostly because it's dawned on me that bottle-feeding 2-3ounces every 2.5-3hrs in one 10-15 minute shot is a hell of a lot easier than 1/2hr long breastfeeding sessions every two hours. I don't think my body was getting enough with the breastfeeding to maintain, and I think that my milkload was probably low. In the end Squish is sleeping better and "doing" more with his awake time than before.

But I mustn't dillydally in the library all day because I am here for a purpose. I must find a book, or books, with pictures of tiger lilies and buffalo skulls. I must find tiger lilies and buffalo skulls because I must do tattoos of buffalo skulls and tiger lilies. Because that's what Steve got me for my birthday/christmas. A kit. Gun, needles, inks, the works. And it will arrive today, tomorrow or on Monday. So I can't stay here, I must go home to chain-smoke on the balcony awaiting the delivery.

If I do this right, I may not have to go to Startek. I may be able to give the kids a fairly cool Christmas. I may be able to put my share in to paying off all our debts. And all I have to do is... tattoo a spiderweb on my neighbours head. Yeesh.

Squish is sound asleep right now, sucking on his finger the way I used to when I was a kid. Aww.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Happy Birthday to me.

A little belated, sure. Happy birthday to you too, PeculiarSister.

Kif's recipe for a cool birthday, even if you're broke:

1. Wake-up phone call from twin sister, even though she lives an hour earlier than you. Great gab n' gossip fest. Many jokes about being "64". Mockage of boyfriends and babies.

2. Phone call from kid sister, immediately upon hanging up with twin sister. Much of the above, minus boyfriends, babies and being half of a sixty-four year old.

3. Off-key rendition of Happy Birthday as sung by five children and boyfriend. Just plain "off" rendition as sung by youngest stepson, lyrics as follows:

Happy Birthday to you.
Stick your finger in poo.
Don't waste it,
just taste it.
Happy Birthday to you.

4. Discovery that boyfriend and assorted ankle-biters rolled pennies to go to "Bunsmaster" (cheap bakery) to buy a 99-cent strawberry/rhubarb pie as "Birthday Cake". Must eat before grows mold, which with their 99-cent pies is usually the next day. Yum.

5. Spend large part of day breaking up fights over who has made the best/nicest/most creative/cutest/most affectionate/etc birthday card for mom/evil stepmother. Sacrifice 75% of household drawing paper to the cause.



Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Roadkill Halloween

When I lived at the farmhouse part of the household duties that fell entirely upon my shoulders was roadkill. Including, unfortunately, Captain Glorious Nonsense himself, my dog Meatball. Also a 'coon and several barncats. Steve can't do roadkill and I can't stand the smell of rotting skunk.

Aside: Steven, who had his last FOCUS group last night (Halloween, LAME) came home once all dejected because they'd completely disbelieved his homework, which was to fill out a housework questionaire. In truth, Steve does around 80-90% of ALL the household chores. I could lie and just say he LIKES doing that sort of thing, but the truth is he hates clutter and mess more than me. I was instructed to redo his homework for him - to correct it. I think they figured they had some sort of asshole and wanted to make him show me that he was publicly disparaging my efforts in the house. I corrected it - he seemed to think that I took care of "outdoor repairs" - to which I can only think he was thinking about roadkill.

Steve can't do roadkill because dead things give him the willies. It happens. It happened again, in fact, yesterday. We went to Price Chopper. There, in the middle of the parking lot was one small, very dead tabby kitten. Standing over it was a gentleman employee of Price Chopper's, with a large cardboard box and a pair of heavy-duty rubber gloves. He'd been tasked to removing the kitten from the parking lot. I guess because he was a guy and guys are supposed to be more sanguine about such things. A small crowd of female employees stood by the door, observing. From the car, where we were getting Squish out of the back, so did Steve and I.

He made several good attempts. The best involved actual glove contact with the tail. He couldn't do it.

So I grabbed a handful of newspaper from the backseat, walked over and put the kitten in the box for him. He looked fairly embarrased up close... mostly because as I got close, it was clear that this large twenty-something man was actually crying. Not sobbing, but definately very teary-eyed. A cat person, I presume. I felt sympathy, but folks, it was hard, I tell you, HARD not to giggle.

He was dressed as a giant ballerina.

So I leave you with that: The mental image of Kif rescuing weepy ballerina-boy from having to touch the poor dead kitty. That was what my Halloween was like.

Except for Pierce the Ogre (been playing Worlds of Warcraft with his Pop) and Eowyn the Ninja. And Josh the Scarecrow and his mom dressed in a killer Queen outfit that we ended up dubbing the "Burger Queen Getup". I painted my face white, made a geisha-sorta looking clown face, and dribbled blood-tears down my cheeks. No toddlers cried, and not even Squish was perturbed, but I thought I looked pretty freaky. Steven went as a scruffy contractor... oh wait....


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cough cough.

We're all sick. Right proper normal viral cough cough sniffle creaky-boned shiver through your fever sick. Bloody miserable, I tell you. There is nothing in the world cuter than a sick 2-month old. You can't hold a wad of toilet paper to their noses and command, "Blow!" All you can do is run the humidifier, take lots of nice baths together, and do your best to ensure they get "lots of fluids" - which when you're breastfeeding translates to informing your boyfriend that what you'd like for your birthday is leather nipples. But it does mean you get a lot of really aww-inspiring cuddle time. Gauge is now the master of the social smile, and cries with tears and everything, just like a real boy. The smile, as I had predicted, turned out to be seriously, SERIOUSLY charming. Plus, there turns out to be a giggle - a very infectious giggle. It goes kinda like "ah-huh-huh! ah-huh-huh-huh!" very low down and deep. Then there is the sneezing... he sneezes usually in sets of three - ah-choo!... ... ah-choo!... ... ah-choo! except occasionally he misses the middle one: Ah-choo!... .... ah-...weeeeeeee... ah-choo! and then shivers all over.

Can you tell I've been stuck in bed for a week using my conscious moments to do nothing much more strenuous than catalogue the behaviours of my baby? It's been good.

Apart from that, the job that Steven apparently did get still has yet to materialize. They hired all these people for an expected contract, and the contract either still isn't in yet or they still don't have enough people to fulfill it. I'm not too worried yet, because they've already invested so much money in all the testing that it would be very bizarre for them not to end up actually hiring. The big problem right now is that in the meantime, I had an argument with the phone company and now I'm cut off, lol. Total pain in the ass. So now we have to get some other form of outside communication in pronto and then drive back up and let the company know our new number... while I'd much rather just stay curled up in bed and eat tylenol all day. But I have a vision in my head of getting back to last early spring, when Steve got the contract with the egg-grading plant, and we had that steady, good income. And we could pay our rent, in full, on time. And buy brand-name cereal. Ah, Cheerio's instead of Oatie-O's! Every time I look at the stack of bills I think we should have just taken the contract for the plant in Newfoundland... and then I look out the window and try to imagine what the weather is like there if it's this crappy here... and that we wouldn't have seen Zoe, Hunter or Jason for four or five months, and that Tony would probably be less than impressed with not seeing Eowyn and Pierce for the same period of time... or we would have lost any actual financial advantage in shipping the various rugrats around and what's the point just to not have your phone cut off?

What really sucks is not being able to work myself. I know, I know, taking care of a baby IS work. But the pay sucks and my earning potential is better than Steve's if he's just contracting or roofing. But around here there's no way I can match the income he'll get at that place we're waiting on, so then his earning potential is better than mine... and we still have a number of months left before we can BOTH be working at the same time... which will be grand, because Steve's NEVER been part of a two-income family before, and it'll be great to get all the old debts cleared up and then get to watch him figure out how quickly and easily you can get the things you want in life if both adults in the household are contributing financially towards them. Sigh, good times yet to come...


Thursday, October 12, 2006

I am concerned

Although I seem to be the only one who is.

My doc appointment last week went pretty much as expected. Branco was studiously underimpressed by my having to have a D&C for retained placental matter. Then he let me know... get this... I STILL have retained placental matter. Still demonstrating an almost singular lack of emotion, he let me know that it should "probably" work itself out on it's own. When pressed, he admitted this meant that my next menstrual period should be biblical. And there is that "probably" to contend with too. Not much worried about the pain, nor the fibroids - on account of the ultrasound report only mentioned one calcified fibroma, 2cm by 4.5cm. He said that wasn't all that big. I mentioned that that is half again as large as my entire uterus. A uterus is also not like say, a spleen. It doesn't just sit there being a spleen. It's a muscle, and the most powerful muscle known to humanity. If it hurts this much with just the gentle squeezings and squoshings endemic to uterus-hood, how the hell is it going to feel when I actually get my period?

My guess: Not good.

So then I mentioned my last complaint. Basically, since this round of medical crap, I've been having what some might call some urinary issues. I would say "minor" incontinence, but if you've ever suffered it, you already know there's nothing minor about pissing your pants. Now Branco's freaking. He tests my urine. There is blood and white blood cells in it. He thumps my back and asks me frequently, mistrustfully, if I have burning sensations when I pee. I am finally forced to bark that I laid it all on the line with the pain during sex and the wetting of my pants and does he really, really think that NOW I am going to balk at a burning bush? My back hurts, yes. No flaming pee, just an incredibly inconvenient inability to tell when I've started or stopped going, and two very upsetting accidents.

So he wrote me a prescription for antibiotics which I may even be able to get today (over a week later) because Steven is roofing in the rain to make it happen. Rent came first. And then food. The rest can wait for now. And he also sent me back to make an appointment to see the surgeon again. Not for the fibroid/s, not for the pain, not for the retained placenta again - because of the incontinence. I told him I didn't give a shit if I spent the rest of my life in Depends, as long as I didn't hurt while in them. He's concerned the surgeon may have nicked a nerve or a ureter. This has set into concrete my opinion that all doctors suck.

Of course, I am also concerned that my appointment with the surgeon is tonight at 5:30pm. When... Steven... is... home. And of course he says he is coming with me. Steven feels very strongly about all my recent medical woes - mostly he feels that the vast majority of them can be lain squarely at the feet of this surgeon. SO WHY the hell am I going to see him? Well, two reasons:

1. I want to TELL him, and see his face when I tell him, that he fucked up AGAIN. And that I'm still hurting.

2. During the ultrasound, they thought I couldn't speak French. They never ONCE mentioned placental debris or clots. They ONLY talked about fibroids. They took measurements of SEVERAL fibroids, not ONE. And the one tech did say the following to the other: How could we have missed this?

See, I have a theory that I don't have any placental debris or clots. I think I may just have fibroids. I think I may have ONLY ever had fibroids. I think what the surgeon took out of me at the D&C, which he later told me took far more effort than usual because it was very well adhered to the uterine wall, and didn't even really LOOK like placenta at all (at the time, I thought he was hedging his bets and making excuses) , may not have been a peice of placenta at all. I think he may have torn a fibroid off the uterine wall with a curette. I think the mistake may have been made by the radiology department, not by him. And I think they may be trying to cover their asses now by putting the blame on the surgeon.

We shall see what he says to that, too.

But you know what I'm really concerned about right now? Every town has it's top five employers. The best places to work. Steven, like most of the guys around here, has spent years nurturing contacts and dropping off CV's and gossiping about openings and recommendations for these top 5. And last week one of them called. They put 11 candidates through 5 aptitude tests and interviews for 4 positions. Steven made the cut. The day before yesterday 5 candidates were sent for some really rather extensive medical testing. The work is physical and you need to be in very good condition. Steven made the cut again.

So within the next two weeks Steven should be starting at one of the local top 5 employers - the starting salary is 20$/hour. The first raise is 2.50$ Can you say WOOHOO!! boys and girls? I know I can!


Monday, October 02, 2006

What could go wrong?

Steven had to work this weekend, which in and of itself, is not a bad thing. The problem was that this weekend was one of those weekends where we ended up with ALL the kids. So it became clear that I would, for the first time ever, be solely responsible for the care of:

Eowyn, 9
Zoe, 9
Jason, 8
Pierce, 7
Hunter, 4
and Gauge, 6 weeks.

My oh my, but that's a buttload of monkeys. But, I thought to myself (rather naively, it turned out), what could go wrong? I'm a strong, independant, intelligent woman. I can handle it. So when 11am Saturday morning rolled around (Jason having been picked up the night before) it was time to go fetch Hunter and Zoe. I left Eowyn, Pierce and Jason at home (6 kids do not fit in a Toyota Corolla) under the (haphazard, it turns out) supervision of my next-door neighbours. Picked up the other two, no problem. Drove home. Grabbed Gauge and various overnight bags and figure-skating paraphenalia (Zoe takes classes) and started upstairs.

I could hear Pierce screaming inside our apartment three floors down, all the way in the stairwell.

Not "bad" screaming. Not "oh god, I tried to make toast and set the kitchen on fire again" screaming. Not "I tried to clip my own nails and accidentally amputated my toe" screaming. The other screaming. The "I hate my sister and in around ten seconds I'm going to make a serious attempt on her life" screaming. Oh christ. I race upstairs and burst in (dark glares for neighbours along the way) screaming myself: What the HELL is going on in here!? Eowyn informs me.

Eowyn: I can't help it. People just push my buttons and then I have to smack the shit out of them.

So I roar at Eowyn to get thee hence to endless night (her bedroom) for smacking "the shit" out of her brother, and for saying "shit", and for generally having a bad attitude about her own ability to control her actions. Pierce, by this point, has slammed himself into his own room. Jason is capering from foot to foot chanting that he had nothing to do with any of this, except as an impartial observer of the fact that it was all Eowyn's doing, and Pierce was utterly innocent. It was a random attack. Gauge starts to howl in his carseat. Zoe and Hunter had been standing in the doorway, struck dumb, but Gauge's protests that I've allowed myself to get more than a boob-length away start Hunter crying that the baby is crying.

HOLD ON A SEC! I holler. I have yet to see if Eowyn managed to do any real damage to Pierce, beyond driving him into an apoplectic fit of rage. The girl's a moose, and has, in the past, used one brother to hold down the other so she can smack "the shit" out of both of them simultaneously. So I go to the boys' bedroom door.

Unfortunately, Pierce was right on the other side. When I started to open it, he hurled himself at it bodily, screaming that he wanted to be left alone. The door slammed on my right hand middle finger. I started with: WAAAAAAARGHHHHH! I followed up with various terms I learned in the army. Then I had that, you know, death-to-my-attacker reaction, almost completely unconsciously. Apparently I first blamed the door, which I proceded to kick in. Then I blamed Pierce, but he is after all, the smartest monkey I've got, so even as the door flew in he was already en route to the furthest reaches of under-the-bed squealing "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" all the way.

So now all my stepkids have gotten to hear some of the more questionable terms known to the english language, and gotten to see me boot in a door and attempt to murder one of my own. Did I mention we were all of 45 seconds into my first ever all-alone with the kids weekend? The neighbour beat a hasty retreat. I took advantage of the deathly silence (even Gauge stopped crying) to do my little stompy-stompy owie-owie dance in the bathroom and check out my finger.

The story gets less interesting from here on in - mostly just about how fun it is to spend 3 hours in an emergency room with six kids. The finger is not broken, although this should sound familiar to some: they called it "the worst sprain...". Sigh. And no, like the time I sprained my foot, I put on too good a show with the not freaking out the kids, and therefore did not even score so much as codeine for my troubles. (Yes, Kif is breastfeeding, but with all my various recent operations poor ole Gauge has already sampled a rather dizzying (literally) array of narcotics second-hand). Then off to figure-skating, then home, and by the time Steven got home I'd somehow managed to import a few extra neighbour-kids and there was... er... I dunno... between eight and ten kids arranged artfully around the livingroom howling in two languages (with translations going back and forth) about The Dukes of Hazzard. Too bad the '69 Charger doesn't have 8-passenger seating.

The moral of the story is that blended families are awesome, not only for the looks of dismay and horror on the nurses' faces when they call your name into triage and you drag EVERY kid in the waiting room in with you, but also because they really do try and get you through faster, just to lower the ambient decibel level. Try bringing along a peewee baseball team to your next doctor visit, you'll see. But also because once the questions, comments, requests, whines, accusations, and recriminations start to crack even YOUR facade, you can say the following:

"Let me remind you freaks that if you can't hold it together and act semi-civilized for one freakin' afternoon, then I am perfectly capable, busted-up finger or not, of taking YOU two home to your mother, YOU home to your maman, and YOU two to your dads for the rest of the weekend."

Today I have an appointment with my "regular" doctor, who just got off vacation to discover a three-inch thick file on my recent medical woes. I am trying not to get my hopes up. My prediction, I tell him my tale, he says that's too bad. I tell him about my gut-pain and the occassional blood-loss, the impact on my urinary continence (oh joy), and the fact that my sex life has reverted to teenager status (actually, this has been kinda fun) on account of all this - he will again commiserate and then send me home... because the horrifying thing about women's health is not so much the fact that there is so little known about it, but the fact that even when they do know, they don't really seem to care. After all, who among us over the age of twenty-five has not heard the words "We don't know precisely WHY this is happening, but it's umm... pretty much within the realm of normal... just come back if it gets worse" from a gynecologist?

As Steven put it, upon inspecting my poor black and blue crushed-up fuck-you finger, "If I went in there with a hangnail, I'd come out with a splint and opiates. If you went in there with a sucking chest wound, I'd be surprised if they gave you a bandaid. You know what your problem is? You don't scream and cry enough."

I'm willing to practice.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

I like Winter

and so do the kids. It is a very cool name. Eowyn did think I was saying "Winner" at first, and looked like she was just, you know, being polite about it - but once I clarified WINTTTTER! she cheered up remarkably about it. Haven't run it by the stepkids yet, but then it looks like it'll be a while before I see them - Hunter and Zoe have alternate plans this weekend, and Jason is staying home because he has bronchitis... as does my friend Christy's son, Joshua. And guess who else... Gauge.

Actually, what he has is brochiolitis. The doctor started to tell me the difference and I cut him off with, "Yeah, bronchia, bronchioles, alveoli - is that why sometimes he breathes just fine and sometimes he can't breathe at all?" It is. It's been a rough couple of nights and I spent the part of the rent (albeit the same part of the rent that I was already going to be spending on replacing the part of the grocery money I had to pony up to the tow truck operator...) on a humidifier. It's the only treatment - humidity. So now my apartment is sweating like the jungles of Vietnam. I have this lovely letter from the doctor for if I have to take Gauge to the emergency room - it basically says that they are not to stick me in chairs, but that Gauge is to be seen immediately by the first available doctor. He is, after all, a very small baby, only 5 weeks old today, and was two weeks premature. Even now he's barely flirting with the 7lb mark...

As opposed to our wee Winter! Cripes almighty does that bring me back to all 8lbs 13oz of Eowyn and the thirty six hours of labour... and the six internal stitches. Way to make a baby and a half, Laure. Mom informs me that over the phone you are positively goo-goo about her, and keep informing her about just how beautiful she is. I don't quite recall if I've given a detailed description of Gauge, but for your edification, here goes:

He has his father's eyes, hazel and deep-set. His hair is dark-dark blond (but not quite brown) and may, just MAY end up having a touch of curl to it. Call it a slight wave. In the back, he has a patch of albinoism the size of a man's thumb-print. His forehead is tall and round and his nose is long and a little-bit squarish across the bridge. His father's again. From me he has inherited low cheekbones and almost entirely no chin. This gives him a rather pronounced overbite. Basically, when those first four little rodent-teeth come in, he's going to look like a chipmunk. His lips are very thin, but his whole mouth is very nicely shaped - like a recurve bow. When he smiles (he attempted, for a brief flash the other day, his first social smile!) it lights up all these disparate and rather goofy individual features with a charm and beauty that makes my nose sting and my eyes water. Then I have to kiss him all over his skinny little shoulders and neck.

Off I go to try and find good stuff on Shiva for Steven to read. He's not taking to Buddhism all that well - first off, he's hyper like a terrier, so even Pierce's attempts to teach him to meditate have failed. Also, he thinks that if he takes spare change off the shrine on the microwave, Buddha will "punish" him. But he likes enough of what he's learned to want the centerpiece of his back tattoo to be Buddha. I think that unless he learns a bit more about it, it'll be beautiful but not terribly fitting for him. So I am researching gods.

The kicker to my week, btw: When I went to Bell Mobility to get a list of their plans in order to make sure I've got the best one for my situation, I discovered that apparently I've been subscribed to a "vehicular assistance" program for years. You know - the sort of thing that if you call them and tell them you're trapped at Zellers because you locked your keys in your purse like a retard, the come and unlock your car for you - for free.