More in Viral Adventures

Skater Atti
So, in case you’re not following along on the FB page, Atti’s viral moment is only picking up steam. We’re now in the “local news picks it up” segment of the journey and heading straight for “national news begins to pay attention.” I’ve had to set all my other responsibilities aside as I became his accidental full time momager and suddenly developed a tiny shred of empathy towards Kris Jenner. Just a shred.

We’ve reached the point where I can’t keep track of all the views. So many outlets have shared it on their pages that I don’t know how to even find them all. At last count we had crossed the 20 million mark. Upworthy, Buzzfeed, Ask Men, LittleThings.com, a TV show called Right This Minute, the front page of reddit, trending worldwide on Facebook, and that’s when the local news came calling.

Atti and Dad
First there was the ABC affiliate. And then there was the Fox affiliate. Each news outlet did their own version and I think each story is worth watching because my child is so gorgeous and lovable, but your mileage may vary. Then USA Today picked up the ABC affiliate story and had it on their front page for a minute. AOL.com ran the story.

Atti on CBS
This is a still from my favorite news story so far. The local CBS reporter just got us and Atti put on a full scale charm offensive. He is turning into such a little ham. But mainly it showed me that all the viral notoriety is worth it for my baby to go on the news and tell the world how he loved my kisses. I will never be the same.

Then CBS.com – the national news – picked up the local affiliate story. So did FoxNews.com. And all week my phone has been ringing with other offers, more conversations, more attention. And Atti is just so happy that the whole world is seeing him as a cool kid and not an afterthought or a burden.

I know there are lots of new readers with all this attention, so let me give you the Clif’s Notes. Below is a playlist of all of Atti’s videos on my Youtube channel. And here is a collection of all my best Atti stories. He is not only a great kid, but the best person I know. I’m so proud that the world is getting to see what I’ve always known.

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So. What’s new with you?

IMG_2142

Hey pals.

So. Last we spoke I was calling “uncle” during the run up to Christmas. Turns out that major abdominal surgery during the holidays tends to throw a monkey wrench in your productivity plans. The recovery was pretty brutal. Six weeks, so, technically, I’m STILL recovering. But today I got Atticus on the bus all by myself, and then went for a two mile walk around the lake. That feels like a benchmark.

During my post-op appointment my surgeon told me all about what he found, and like surgeons often do, he made it sound like it wasn’t that out of the ordinary. And for him, maybe it wasn’t. All he does is look at endometriosis ridden bodies, after all. But when my fertility clinic saw it they all lost their minds. My nurse Sue called me up saying “Oh my gosh!! We had no idea it was so involved! How were you walking?!” Which, I won’t lie, felt pretty great. Some people compete in triathlons, I just get through my day with my innards all attached to each other.

There was scarring and adhesions and fibroids just EVERYWHERE. On my intestines, blocking my uterus, attaching my ovaries to the inside of my pelvic wall like they were one of those fraternity pranks where someone is plastered to the wall with duct tape. My bladder was “fused” (that was the actual word the surgeon used) to my uterus. And of course scar tissue from the emergency C-section that saved me and Atti. It was a crime scene in there.

Recovery has been super hard – give thanks for your abdominal muscles next time you need to cough or poop – but I’m feeling so much better. It’s been years since I had this much energy and motivation. Since I had…hope? That I wouldn’t always need to apologize for backing out? Or begging off? Or asking for help? That maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to just..do..all the things that so many people take for granted.

Including having a baby. We’re in the middle of our latest attempt at a cycle right now. Just yesterday I climbed up into those stirrups that I should really just start paying rent for at this point, and had another ultrasound. From my many years of tracking my ovulation, I know that I tend to go pretty late in my cycle, which is a bit of a problem when you’re trying to control so many variables. My reproductive system is just too punk rock to be controlled, though. It’s all “Go ahead and pump all the medicine you want in me. I won’t be rushed. I do what I want. You might call me uterus, but I say it’s uterMe.” And then it puts on some aviator shades as a screaming YEOOOOOWWW echoes behind it.

If my dang body will just play along already, then we’re hoping for a transfer in a couple of weeks. Just in time for yet another December birthday in the family.

My niece is still living with us and that is going awesome. I have a whole lot I want to say about that, but I can’t do it today. Or maybe ever. Dang grown people with their own idea about what they want spread on the internet. It has been a big adjustment but a wonderful one. And maybe one of these days I’ll convince her to let me put her on the blog. She is so incredibly gorgeous and talented, and maybe the only person I’ve ever known who didn’t want to share that with the Internet.

There is still so much more to talk about. Atti’s new wheelchair and his big breakthroughs, my own big endeavors, my plans to make all my dreams come true, and how Force Awakens blew my mind. But I’m trying to learn to pace myself. I am still recovering after all.

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Christmas FAIL

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Show You Care

Happy love

This neverending fertility journey I’m on has been horrific. I got some more bad news this week, but I’ll get into that another day. Right now I’m deep into self-care mode with lots of puzzle doing, cat snuggling, and playing with Atti to get me through the hard stuff.

As I’ve been wading through all my tender feelings, it’s really hard to not sink into a place of desperation or loneliness. It’s really really easy to succumb to all the magical thinking that tells you there’s a reason you can’t have kids, and that it’s because there is something wrong with you. This infertility stuff, I tell you, it gets right down to the core of your identity and the love you have to give and long to receive.

But one beautiful bright spot in all this darkness is how people have shown up for me.

When I go through a hard time, I cocoon. I don’t leave the house, I don’t reach out for help, I hide in a safe space until I feel strong enough to re-engage with the world. Of course, this coping mechanism comes with some significant drawbacks. Namely, when the hard time is your own body and mind, a cocoon isn’t always a safe place. And often, hiding by yourself just intensifies the loneliness. But what is a person to do when they need support but don’t have the energy or courage to ask? You ask in whatever way you can bring yourself to. Sometimes that’s just squeaking out “help” to a trusted friend, sometimes it’s attending a meeting, sometimes it’s even vaguebooking.

Over the last few days the texts and PM’s and emails have been flying my way from all sides. Some who recognize what it means when I post about having a “bummer day” while in the midst of fertility treatments. Some responding to a more detailed call for help, and some just following an impulse inspired by whatever you want to call the human connection we all share. I call it God.

As I’ve been lost in the fog of my own problems, I’m constantly amazed at the goodness of people, putting aside their own problems to care about mine. To take the time to send a text while they’re racing around with all their own responsibilities. Who forgive me when I need to take some time to respond from the well I’m at the bottom of. Who never ignore that impulse to offer kindness.

When I’m more myself, I tend to wander through life with a big goofy grin on my face and my unmistakable cackle announcing my arrival. My laugh is something I’ve been self-conscious of forever – it is loud and omnipresent, but I know that if you ask people who love me what they love about me, my laugh comes to the top of the list. And even strangers have told me that my laugh cheered them up. How silly that something so small as a laugh is all it takes to spread a little joy. When something as untaxing as a high five can turn a day around. From my current vantage point under the covers, a text is hope. A friendly nod can overcome so much sorrow.

SoulPancake, home of Kitten Therapy and Kid President, has launched their latest viral campaign to put some goodness into the world by challenging people to show they care. This video totally made me cry at how beautiful the world is. From the high-fiving baby to the gentleman on the phone spelling out plainly exactly what the person on the other end meant to them, it’s a lovely reminder to step outside ourselves and our fear of rejection and prove how much love is in the world.

Because there is always more love than loneliness. And it takes so little to remind us of that. So do it today. #showyoucare

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Atti Update

Baclofen pump

Atti stayed home from school today. We’re all recovering from the flu, but that’s not really what did it. It was his screaming and tears when we tried to get him up and ready this morning. This is not the first time either. It only started a week and a half ago and he’s already begged and cried his way out of three days of school.

This actually doesn’t have anything to do with school. He loves riding the bus so much he cries when he gets home. He loves his teachers, he loves the routine, he loves learning, but ever since his surgery my anxious little guy has ramped up into a kid who never wants to leave the house.

We tempt him with movies or his favorite foods or trips to special places like the zoo. Bear even took him to a water park and he begged to go home after minutes. Even with a rash guard covering his belly.

When he’s at home he’s happy as can be. As I type he’s making up songs and playing with his Kindle at my feet. He needs a lot more assurance than pre-surgery, but since that basically just means more snuggles, I’m not mad at that. I just worry about my little guy and his relationship to the big wide world.

Shortly after I married Bear, I went through a period of agoraphobia. I would shake and cry at the thought of leaving the house. I failed my last semester of college, I lost a job, the thought of leaving that front door caused me physical pain. Now I know it’s all part of the OCD/anxiety broth my brain is stewing in, but the conditions I was living in – not having the tools to be open and vulnerable to my spouse without letting all the pain of the world overwhelm me – took my typical level of compulsion to a place that made sunshine seem dangerous.

I think that’s what’s going on with Atticus. He has had a major, major, change to his body. Imagine how self-conscious you feel when you’ve put on a little weight. Remember how it kept you from applying for a job, or reaching out to someone you wanted to know. Now compound that by medical necessity, disability, and the fact that there is a giant medical appliance jutting out from his tummy instead of just a little normal extra weight. This poor kid is already so different in so many ways, but he also knows how beautiful he is. This threatens that. This is another threat to his ability to fit in.

He will get used to it. It’s amazing what you can learn to accept. And we have all the right people involved. I’m just trying to be very carefully tuned in to him. Most days I would just tell him “Tough beans. You’re going to school.” But there are some days when that would make everything so much worse. Days like today when he just needs to feel safe and tackling the world comes after that. It would all be so much easier if he could speak fluently enough to go to therapy, or tell me how to help. But he doesn’t, so we’re both stumbling through trying to figure this all out together. All I know is that my first job is to make him know that he is loved. So back to the work of snuggling, and pushing, and eventually he’ll get through this.

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Summer is over

2015 First Day of School
Last Wednesday was Atti’s first day of second grade. I have a lot of feelings.

But mostly, I have total relief.

This summer has been ridiculous. All the in vitro stuff, a busted wheelchair, weddings, Atti’s surgery and recovery, a sudden emergency that had me away from home for a week, home for two days, then driving alone across the desert to a conference followed immediately by a camping trip where I cooked for 100 people, another freaking root canal, and then school. I did so. much. laundry. I should have taken a picture. If a wonderful friend didn’t come over and force me to let her help, that mountain of laundry would still be covering up two giant couches.

And now, I’ve had a week to get myself together. I rested up to fight the weariness that made me a shell of myself. I slept off the root canal. I did all the laundry and washed the mud off the camping gear and organized my pantry and bought food. And I find myself wandering around the house wondering what’s next. You get in those hyperactive frenzies when everything is coming at you so fast, and then once it settles down you don’t know what to do with yourself.

In my case it’s led to a whole lot of angst about what I’m doing with my life. Like creative people do, I have a lot of irons in the fire, and right now, they’re all stalled. Novels that can’t find an agent, shows that need production help, companies in the planning stages, product lines being rejected, and all the while this little blog waiting patiently in the background. Except, no one reads blogs anymore. There are a few bright exceptions, but even Dooce stepped back from blogging. The kind of blog that I write – a personal one sharing my life and growth – is a dinosaur.

But I’m REALLY uninterested in the kind of blogs that are getting read these days. I tried, I really did, to hang with all the SEO and Pinterest Ready and Trending Content but it just bores me silly to produce it, even though I consume it. That’s just not what I have to offer. So a dinosaur I will remain. But it also means that I need to change my perspective on this place.

The punk-rock DIY days of blogging are far behind us. Now it’s media conglomerates and listicles and content scraping roundups. I sound a million years old, but that’s what a decade of internet time will do to you. People don’t read and develop relationships with the author anymore. I think about some of the valuable friendships I’ve made with readers over the years and it does make me sad that those wouldn’t happen today. Now everything has to be discrete chunks of info that can be searched on Pinterest.

I remember years ago, I watched as another blog I loved went dark, and the author said something like “I’ve realized my blog is never going to break through.” I thought that was sad and pessimistic, but I totally get it now. After ten years of typing here and watching the internet reinvent itself at least as many times, I find myself in that same place. I’ve realized my blog is never going to break through.

That doesn’t feel sad to me, though. I’m not giving up this space. I’m not going to stop blogging. I’m just going to give up the pressure. If I don’t have anything I feel like sharing, I won’t post that day. I’m not going to worry about how something fits in with viral news stories or seasonal content. In fact, if I was a good blogger, I’d be through all my summer projects and getting close to Halloween stuff by now. Except I’ve got some truly excellent summer projects that didn’t get attention, so I’m going to share them anyway. Because I don’t have to be a “good” blogger anymore. I can just do me. And these days, me is about two months behind everything.

I started this blog because in my secret heart I was a writer, but I was too terrified to write. I was drowning under the pain of chronic illness and infertility. Now I have Atticus, we’re hopeful about more, and I am an honest to goodness, paid for the work, published and everything, Writer. My blog may have never broken through, but I did.

Snuggle

This is really just a letter to myself. I don’t think things will change much around here. Other than I might write more about some behind the scenes projects that are in development that good blogging rules would tell me I should keep under wraps until I had a brand and a marketing plan. But I’m not going to worry about that anymore. Blogging has given me so so much, I’ll never give up on it, but I think it’s time I started looking beyond.

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Atti gets his Baclofen Pump

Kid in Hospital Bed
After a year stuck in red tape hell, we FINALLY got all the approvals necessary for my little guy to get his next surgery. I kept thinking of this one as a quicky on the road to the two major hip reconstructions we have coming up, but boy was I wrong. This one was HARD. And totally sucked. For all of us.

Atti had a Baclofen pump implanted in his abdomen. The pump is full of medicine and releases it directly into the spine, where it can bypass all the side effects of taking something orally. In this case, Baclofen is a muscle relaxant which, if you’ve ever taken a muscle relaxant you know, makes you stoned. Sleepy and silly and incoherent is no way to go through life. So by having this pump he gets all the medicine he needs but he still gets to keep his clarity.

I didn’t realize until our pre-op appointment that he was going to be in the hospital for a week. Or that he’d require at least two weeks of recovery at home afterward. With all of Atti’s surgeries he’s bounced right back almost even before we left the hospital. This one was different.

Dad and Sick Kid

This time, we couldn’t keep his pain under control. He’s so stoic that he never cried, he just writhed around in bed with the pain written all over his face. The worst was when he’d wake up in the middle of the night begging for help. I will hear that little voice in my nightmares until the end of time.

I stayed with him in the hospital the whole time, and since it was Shriners we were spoiled rotten. I got a roll out bed next to him so I didn’t have to sleep in pushed together chairs or a windowsill like I’ve had to in the past. There was a day room playing music he liked and a cafeteria with decent enough food. But still, it was the hardest time I’ve ever had as a parent of a kid with medical needs. This hurt him so bad. The pain has been intense and bewildering. And it’s hurt how he feels about himself. And there’s nothing I can do but hold him and love him and try to save my tears for the bathroom, or at least where it’s too dark for him to see.

We’ve been home now for a couple of weeks and Atti is crawling around like nothing happened to his little body. The spasms in his legs are way down, we can get his legs open enough to easily change diapers, I think this is going to make a massive massive difference for my little hero.

But we still have some healing to do. Both of us.

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Newsflash: In Vitro is hard!

Fertility Meds

Every time I think I’ve got the hard stuff of this year behind me and I’m ready to get back on the horse of regular life, the next thing comes along and knocks me flat again. We’re now at a year and a half of health garbage taking over my life – when it wasn’t outright threatening it – all with the hope of having another baby. This kid better be dang cute, that’s all I have to say. And, of course, it better exist.

I have gotten through the egg retrieval phase of IVF, which really really sucked. Like, bad. Over the years I’ve known hundreds of people who have done IVF and everyone said it was hard, but nobody really prepared me for exactly how hard it is. Granted, I am a medical marvel that will find every possible complication, but still. I had to put every single other thing in my life on the back burner and just do this. While Bear got Atti on the bus and raced home from work to pick him up, I laid on the couch watching old episodes of the Bachelor and moaning.

Every ounce of energy that wasn’t necessary for breathing was draining into my ovaries. I slept and slept and slept and I was still exhausted as my egg factories were kicked into hyperdrive, reacting to the oodles of medication I was taking every day. My belly was so swollen I looked like a waterbed, and I was covered from hip to belly button in giant bruises and puncture marks.

Since I’m one of those women who has pain during ovulation, and here I was hyper ovulating, it was not only exhausting, but PAINFUL. And even taking advil freaked me out, panicked I’d be causing harm to the eggs or risking the whole process. I used a heating pad to try and get a little relief but even then I was too worried about making hard boiled eggs to have it help much.

But all of that investment in energy paid off when we got news that there were over 30 eggs waiting to be retrieved. I went in for a quick procedure where they sedated me and then used a needle to aspirate up each of those little eggs. By the time I woke up they were already at the lab being joined by a sperm that had been individually chosen as the best candidate. I had visions of embryologists looking through their microscopes at a little sperm beauty pageant, the winner crowned and injected directly into the egg. Then we just had to wait and let nature take its course.

Of course, since I am, once again, a medical oddity, I had complications even from this little procedure. I had some bleeding that they couldn’t get stopped easily, which resulted in bleeding into my abdominal cavity. Apparently, I’ve learned the hard way, there is a major nerve that runs underneath the diaphragm and sends the impulse to move up and down to breathe. This nerve gets aggressively irritated by blood. So for nearly three weeks this nerve was driving me to distraction. The first night I felt like I was drowning, it felt like I couldn’t get my lungs to fill. Then as my body slowly, slowly, slowly absorbed the blood that was causing all the problems, I began to breathe easier, but I still had intense shooting nerve pain up into my shoulder. After a month of exhaustion making the eggs, I had another month of pain just trying to heal from getting them.

It was disheartening to watch the numbers go down at each stage of development – 30+ eggs retrieved, 16 fertilized, 12 grew to day 2, 8 made it to “blast stage” and on and on. I kept trying to remind myself that it didn’t matter how many embryos we had as long as we got a baby at the end, but it was terrifying to think of everything I’d put in to this process and know that it could all still go wrong at so many different points.

Just before we were ready to proceed to the implantation stage – where they put the embryos into my uterus and wait to see if a pregnancy is achieved – we got yet another twist thanks to my dang malfunctioning body. My hormone levels were out of whack and they felt it was best to wait before trying to get pregnant. So they took our little embryos and popped them in the freezer until I could get everything all cozy for them. I admit, I was crushed. This just felt one too far. After all the pain and exhaustion and sacrifice, to still not have it work out for us, I just about lost it. But once I could calm down and think it all through, I was kind of glad to have a little time to heal before launching into a pregnancy (knock on wood). This whole process has been so rough, it ended up being a good thing to be able to get myself back together before dealing with pregnancy symptoms on top of all the pain and exhaustion I’d just gotten through.

We’ve got four little embryos waiting for us in the freezer, and now we’re just waiting until I can dedicate another month to shots and daily office visits to see if all of this suffering of the last year and a half will prove fruitful. Hopefully August will be a lucky month. Hopefully those four little popsicle babies will actually make it into this world. And hopefully they’ll all be just like Atticus.

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Milestone

Atti Kiss

All of last year I felt like I was drowning. Whether it was the life threatening depression that turned out to be a med reaction to my endometriosis treatment, or the kidney stone that sent me to the hospital, or to finish out the year, freaking whooping cough, I was limping through just trying to make it through the day. In that condition I had to jettison every responsibility that was more taxing than breathing in and out and not dying. No more craft designing, no more blogging or Youtube-ing, no more contributing to the household. Bear has proven once again to be an exceptional partner and over the year he’s handled meals, organized help, and gotten Atti on the bus every morning.

As I’ve recovered, that last task was the one that loomed larger and larger in my mind. Slowly I started adding responsibilities back into my day. I’d do the laundry, I’d go grocery shopping, and then I’d fall ill again. I’d start to recover, blog through December, and then get sick all over again. But as I felt better and felt empowered to start picking the pieces up again, any mention of being responsible for waking up early to get Atti on the bus would send me into a panic.

You know that one thing that really isn’t that hard, but you dread it and so it grows and grows and becomes even more insurmountable to you? Like calling the credit card company or making the appointment or going to the DMV. It will just take a minute and then you’ll be done, but you can’t bring yourself to do it? And the more you put it off the bigger and bigger it grows until you just can’t see how you can possibly manage it? That’s how getting Atti on the bus became to me.

I should stop here and say – I know. This is nothing special for parents all over the place. And I am super lucky to have a partner who can take over for me for so long. But Atti also isn’t your typical nearly seven year old and getting him ready is A LOT more intense than shepherding him around the house as he dresses himself and eats his own breakfast. It’s a very physical labor that involves lifting and hauling and bathroom trips and trying to yank pants over his hips and putting braces on his legs and carrying him to his wheelchair and getting the heavy wheelchair full of kid down our super steep driveway without accident. It’s all the work you used to do with an infant, but that infant weighs 40 pounds. And is on wheels.

So it’s hard work that I wasn’t capable of for a very long time. Because I was too weak, because the most important thing governing my mental health is the amount of sleep I get and for a long time I couldn’t count on getting that by 7 am, and then because it had grown into this overwhelming and terrifying task loaded with shame. Because this is nothing special for parents all over the place, what was my problem? Because I love my son with ferocity and I couldn’t manage to do this for him. Because I was forcing my partner to carry all the weight of our family by himself. And that shame grew and grew until it threatened to bury me.

Today I got Atti on the bus. It was difficult, just like it is on my best day, but I managed it. And as I kissed him goodbye and he went through his morning goodbye call and response (“Ba-Bye! Have a good day at school! Mwah!” Repeat two times) I nearly broke out in tears. Because I did it. My fears of falling to pieces or not being up to the task didn’t come through. I have been beating myself up for months that I wasn’t able to do this for Atti, comparing myself to every other parent, and making the mistake that just because a task is common, doesn’t mean it’s easy.

I conquered this big shame covered complicated task and that means that I am officially back on my feet again. A little wobbly, but here.

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2015 coming in with a wheeze

She-Ra

In case you’ve missed my whining on facebook or twitter or instagram, I have Whooping Cough.

Bear thinks it’s hilarious. He keeps asking me if I need to eat citrus for my scurvy. Or if I need to watch for symptoms of Scarlet Fever. Of course, I would get this stupid old-fashioned illness that most people get vaccinated for and never even think about. Of course I would.

Just before Thanksgiving I had such crippling abdominal pain I couldn’t move. I actually had to have Bear call the ambulance and a bunch of dicky EMT’s stood over me and yelled at me to stand up while they rolled their eyes at me laying on the bathroom floor in shock. Luckily my ER doctor was an angel and ran every test and determined that I had passed a kidney stone and had a kidney infection.

And all that is after six months of suicidal depression because of a reaction to medication.

So basically, it’s been SUPER FUN over here.

I had hoped that the New Year would bring me a new lease on health, or at least back to my typical state of functional enough poor health, but here I sit, unable to change the laundry over lest I exert myself too hard and have a coughing fit. I am so over this bullshit.

In good news, we have a new member of our fuzzy family and she is taking very good care of me. Every picture I have of her is blurry because it’s taken from about two inches away while she’s sitting on my chest. She takes her role as nursemaid very seriously. Her name is She-Ra because she’s my little princess of power, and she’s another purebred Ragdoll, this time with lynx point markings. I love her and say the stupidest and most ridiculous things to her in the stupidest and most ridiculous voice. I wish I could blame the cough syrup with codeine, but it predates that.

Since Cheetara died, I have been missing my own little companion. One of the reasons we love Ragdolls so much is that they pick their person and bond to them. Gizmo is Atti’s cat, Jem is Bear’s, and my lap has been empty for years. Finally, FINALLY! I’ve convinced Bear that that can’t go on any longer. We are a three cat family. I think he just felt sorry for my stupid sick body.

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