Fire bad, tree pretty

The rule–let’s call it the Rule of Tongue–was no blogging until my ability to string words together reached a level higher than that of my preverbal child.  Unfortunately the wait for my foggy brain to reconnect with its polysyllabic word center made for a pretty lengthy silence.

It’s been 101 days since we marked Javid’s 2nd birthday, and 100 on the nose since the shit hit the fan.

Yep, you heard me.  If I were speaking metaphorically about the economy, say, I might now tell you a little about worries we both have of funding cuts threatening our jobs.  Or maybe I’d just plug in a link to a Scrubs episode or some such silliness as a distraction from the anxieties so many feel about the world’s current financial mess.

If I referred to AL’s reincarnation as working stiff, well even though it was quite traumatic for both of us that technically was only 99 days ago.

If I were recalling the recent moment when I stepped on a scale and recoiled at a number 15 pounds higher than before Jai was born, well that horror was personal and since I’m what you might call a private person we’ll let that one go, too.

Or if the allusion were to the Boy’s decision right before Thanksgiving (thank you very little, kiddo) not to be interested in the sleep thing after all, while arguably more important to us–at least in the short term–than matters global (did you get that?  that was a single reference encompassing both the economic crisis and my round belly … I’m back baby!) or professional, we’d have an incredibly long and convoluted sentence as well as a topic I’m certain to refer back to later, but it wouldn’t be my point at this particular moment.

Instead I’m talking actual shit.  Hitting a literal fan.  Gross.

On Javid’s birthday we noticed some wetness in the carpeting of our basement, but thought it was just leaking out of the bottom of an air conditioner I had put down there on the floor.  Since it was his birthday I moved the air conditioner off the carpet and didn’t spend any more time thinking about it.

The next day I checked and the wet patch had spread I-didn’t-take-exact-measurements-but-I-think-it’s-fair-to-say exponentially.  So I called my brother to help me move Ana Lisa’s piano (normally our basement is a dry piano-friendly environment) away from the damp.  Whether through lack of sleep or whatever I wasn’t really worried yet about what might have caused the moisture, but as soon as Dave got there he honed in on the problem … our main sewage line had backed up.  So we weren’t just talking water, it was “dirty” water.  Ewww.

Our experience is that learning to be competent homeowners is the product of a series of events we have no idea how to deal with but either through the advice of others or by just muddling through figure out how to handle and then later wonder how we could ever have not known what to do in that situation.  This was simply the latest fun-fun step along the way.  Within the hour a Roto-rooter man was feeding a snake into our drain, a process that took over five hours and involved removing the basement toilet not once but twice.  In the process I set up up some fans to start drying things out and, well, you know where this is headed.  There was the guy snaking away enthusiastically and me adjusting fan placement when suddenly this glob of, well, shit, came flying out of the drain and fed itself wetly and audibly right through the fan blades.  Yum.

Finally at about 11 p.m. he pulled a mass of unidentifiable filth out of the drain and everything began once more to move as it should.

I didn’t realize at the time, but the moment when the water began to flow again in our house marked a time when many other areas of our life seemed to get plugged up.

Bright and early the next morning Ana Lisa peeled herself away from Jai and grumped off to work for the first time since his birth.  It was a bit hard for me to sympathize as I’d been working since two weeks after his birth.  But her job involves a lot more responsibility and time commitment than mine, so even I can recognize it was a harder transition back.  Suddenly she was having to pump again, which carries its own memories related to Javid.  AL’s job involves a lot of meetings, and I mean a lot of meetings.  So there was also the logistical difficulty of fitting 20-minutes pumping sessions every two to three hours into her busy day.  She has many stories about shall-we-say-interesting places she’s been forced to huddle in to pump, but they’ll have to wait for another day.

Ana Lisa’s return to work also ushered in my new role as primary caregiver for part of the week.  Before going out on maternity leave she negotiated with her work to allow her to work from home for some of the week upon her return.  And my job allows me to work from wherever I want when I’m not seeing clients or running groups.  So we figured we’d make a go at providing our own childcare, see how it went.

How it went was very well but also challenging to juggle care for him with work.  AL had the harder time because as I think I may have already implied, she works harder than I do.

Terrence Real, an author I like, describes a thing about people who have kids where because of all the work involved the intimacy between the parents shifts from face-to-face to shoulder-to-shoulder.  In our case, it felt more like a shift to mixed professional tag-team wrestling.  I’d crawl to the edge of the match with barely the strength to reach out my hand and tag Ana Lisa before she’d catapult off the ropes back into the ring.  Later it’d be her turn to roll wearily off the mat.

In the beginning there were many evenings that found Jai outside in his stroller, with me pushing him up and down the block while checking and rechecking the time and hoping hoping hoping I could stave off his freak out until AL pulled up in her car.  And others where I’d come home from my evening groups to find AL looking more than a little wild eyed.

To make matters more savory, about a week before Thanksgiving Jai decided this business of slowly lengthening out his periods of sleep, well, he wasn’t having any of that anymore.  Suddenly we were back again to every 1-2 hours during the night.

The first night AL spent in the hospital after undergoing the C-section that delivered Jai, her nurse wasn’t terribly responsive about pain medication.  As a result she had a lot of discomfort and got very little sleep.  When I arrived early the next morning she greeted me with a crazed look and I knew it was time to spring into husbandly action.  I sidled up to the front desk and in as conversational tone as I could muster (and with a slightly calculated weary/worried look on my face) ventured aloud as how in my work life I was a therapist (of sorts), that in the therapy world we talk about lack of sleep as being the quickest road to psychosis, and I was a bit worried to find this morning that my wife hadn’t been able to sleep because she was in pain.

They all laughed and AL’s day nurse jumped up to go pump her full of drugs.  Problem solved.

Since Thanksgiving I’ve fantasized (to say dreamed would be obviously inaccurate) of finding as quick a detour from the road to insanity through sleep deprivation.  I’m not much of a sleeper even in the best of times, but caring for our nonsleeping son has been way beyond even my insomniac threshold.

We have an equation in our house that goes something like:  the likelihood of finding a lost object is directly related to one’s level of likelihood of bursting into tears over it.  In other words, the object is likely to remain lost until the very instant I lose all hope of it ever being found.  At which point it will suddenly appear.

The reason I’m writing today is because we had a similar dynamic occur related to the Kid and sleep this week.  By Tuesday I was holding it together by so slender a thread I felt compelled to tell the group I ran that night that I was really tired and pretty sure I had a kind of perpetual stern look on my face.  Several members of the group immediately and helpfully offered confirmation.  :-)  I tried hard to be gentler than usual in my comments so as to soften the effect, but I imagine I was a slightly terrifying group leader.

After much angst we had planned for that same night to be the first Jai spent in his own room.  As has happened with most new things to which he’s been introduced, he made the transition more easily than we did.  Moving him out of our room meant moving out of a stage in his development which has been hard because of its impact on our sleep but sweet and intimate in so many other ways.

Four nights have now passed and we’re sooooo over our angst.  Remarkable how a little uninterrupted sleep will do that.  It’s not that he doesn’t keep waking up, probably as much as he did when he was in our room.  But now if one person gets up to respond to him the other can keep sleeping.  This is bliss.

I’ve planned many times over the last 100 days to write on the blog but could never get my head clear or focused enough to follow through.  Suddenly I can write again.

For a number of weeks now AL has been getting help with childcare for Jai on the days she works from home.  He’s also growing and changing in ways that mean he requires less moment by moment attention during the day.  Heck, he napped through more than half the time it took for me to write this.  How cushy is that?

So little by little we’re crawling back toward some semblance of our former selves.  Add a dear kid like the one we’ve got to the mix and it’s a pretty happy life.  We hope to keep sharing it with you in much more regular installments over the weeks and months to come.  Thanks for checking back in.

p.s.  Jai says hi.



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