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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Visit

My son looks bigger and older now.   He's back from the kids' visit with Brad.   It's only been three nights, but somehow he seems different to me.  Cassie looks the same, though, sweet as ever. 

I got through the days without too much stress, I started missing them the second night, but I had a lot of house clean up and organization activities to keep me busy.   I tried to focus on staying active, not on missing them.   On the up side, I cleared out a bunch of old toys and made room for Christmas stuff. 

It seems the visit with Brad went well.  I was half expecting a panicked phone call sometime in the middle of it since this is the longest time he has spent with them, ever.   I have mixed emotions about the fact that it went well. On the one hand, I'm glad they got along and there were no major blow-ups (that I am aware of), but I also know that there are blow-ups coming.  Brad is just incapable of controlling his emotions in the long run, based on the past.

He called me Saturday afternoon while they were with him, basically to berate me again for being five minutes late last Saturday.  He thinks I am putting my 'friend', as he calls him, over my kids because of that five minutes.   It's just ridiculous - we had a huge fight and I got very angry.   I got some things off of my chest, though, and Brad has uncharacteristically taken responsibility for the divorce.  He seems to understand, at this moment, that his abusive behavior and his drinking were the problem.   He still maintains that it happened because I did not, or could not, love him the way he wanted me to.    But he realizes that his reaction to this was inappropriate.

It seems he's had a major breakthrough and I really hope it sticks.   I've been through this before with him, though, and he usually can't hang on to the feelings for very long.   His anger, his sense of betrayal, and sense of loss from the divorce all come crashing back when something does not go his way.

I tried to explain to him that threatening me does not make me want to talk to him or cooperate with him. He said he understood, but I'm not really sure.   In the past, he has gone back to his old abusive and mean behavior pretty much instantaneously when I don't agree with him.   

Only time will tell.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

He's Done

Brad insisted on babysitting if I had a date, his premise being why would I have a stranger watch them when they could be with their father.    At a high level, it's hard to argue with his reasoning.  

Well here is why: 

It was  his scheduled day to be with the kids yesterday and I asked him to keep them until 8pm, rather than 6pm, because I had a date.   He insisted I text at 7:15 to tell him if I was on time.   I was a little late in texting him because when I first looked, it was too early and the next time I looked it was too late.  I texted at about 7:20 saying would I be on time.   Despite my best intentions, by the time the check came and we walked to the parking garage and I got in my car, I was going to be about 5 minutes late.   I picked up the phone to text Brad and the phone was ringing.  It was him. I answered the phone and he said "Where are you?"  I told him I was in the car and I would be a few minutes late, and then he called me a sl*t.   Nice. He proceeded to call me 8 more times on my way home (it's like a 10 minute trip), but I never answered.   He was waiting at the end of the street and pretended he was going hit my car as I turned the corner. Again, nice.

When I got to the house he knocked on the back door and I let him in (I had the phone in my hand ready to call 911 just in case). The kids were still out back.  He proceeded to berate me, tell me the kids both need new shoes, the kids are both sick, the neighbor saw Luke playing out back without supervision Thursday, etc. Telling me I lied because I was late, that I did not care about the kids. It was horrible.

He told me he 'knew what I had done' or something like that, because, he said, I was wearing the same jeans as when I left.    This is particularly bizarre and I don't have any idea how he came to that conclusion.  I was wearing jeans when I dropped the kids off at his house at 9am.  I was wearing different jeans when I left for my date, but they were, obviously, the same jeans I had on when I answered the door to him.  It's clear that he thought I had had sex, but how the jeans play in, I have no idea.   His mind works in mysterious ways.

I almost forgot the best part.  After I asked him to keep them late, he concocted a scheme to play with the neighbors behind my house during his time with them. He told me several times Friday and again Saturday morning when I dropped the kids off that they would be out behind my house during the day and that he wanted to make sure I was not going to have 'my friend' over.   I know he did this on purpose to thwart any plans I had to bring my date to the house.  He is obsessed that 'my friend' not know where I live because he thinks if things go wrong this person might try to harm the kids. It's ridiculous.  Little does he know, he is the biggest danger to the kids, in my opinion. 

After he left, he called my cell phone three times.  I didn't answer. He left a voice mail that was one minute and 21 seconds long. I have not listened to it yet, and I don't think I will.    The only reason I might is for proof that he's not changed, in case I need it.  He keeps threatening  to go to court to try to get '50% custody'.  Episodes like this are definitely not in his favor.

So basically, he's done with the babysitting.  I will go out when he already has them, but I cannot ask him to keep them late, or give him any extra time with them when I need a babysitter  This is exactly why I was hesitant to let him babysit in the first place and it turns out, I was right.  He insists he wants me to move on, and be happy, and have a good relationship.  He condescendingly tells me he thinks I will be easier to deal with when I have a boyfriend.  In spite of what he says, however, he cannot handle my dating.  He is crazy jealous - this is the same exact behavior as when we were married.  It's coming up on two years since I kicked him out and I am still surprised at the strength of his emotion towards me.

Update: He called Sunday evening to apoligize saying he had no right to call me a sl*t (as if there is some circumstance in which he might have a right?) He insists he was just angry and not jealous.  Hmmm.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cassie's Story Part 2 of 2

I heard the people in the recovery room before I saw them.  My doctor come over and said everything had gone fine.  I had lost a lot of blood, but the baby was doing well and was in the NICU.   I obviously had not seen my daughter yet.   After I was sufficiently awake, they moved me to the cardiac ICU.  I still had the balloon devices in my legs and had various tubes all over.  Two catheters for my bladder, IV for fluids and pain medication, blood oxygen monitor, heart monitor,  blood pressure monitor and two squeezy things on my feet to keep the blood moving in my legs since I would be immobile for a while.   They took the balloon things out of my arteries and then my left leg started bleeding internally.    A host of doctors were called and they decided to monitor it hourly before doing surgery to fix it.  Luckily, it did not get worse, so they did not have to do surgery. 

Overnight I had a bad episode where I felt like I could not breath and my lips were numb, more tests and more doctors.   It was discovered I had a hematoma (basically a bruise) the size of a dinner plate in my abdomen and a big air pocket as well.   My doctor and I decided not to do surgery then for the bleeding and to just keep an eye on it. They gave me some relaxing drugs and put a tube down my throat to help with the air pocket somehow.   Again, luckily it did not get worse and I survived my first night in the ICU.  I had my own nurse who was constantly checking on me.  She turned her other patient over to someone else once I started having problems.  I will forever be grateful to her quick thinking and attention to detail. 
They had brought me polaroids of Cassie.  She looked perfect, even with the feeding tube in her nose and all the other wires.   She would not take a bottle yet, so they gave her formula for a couple of days through the feeding tube.  I started pumping breast milk the day after surgery, but due to my medication they would not give it to her yet.  It made my heart ache that I could not see her.  I spent one more night in the ICU that was thankfully uneventful .

Finally on Wednesday they said I could move to a regular room, so I went via wheel chair and on the way I visited Cassie for the first time.  It had been more than forty-eight hours since she was born.  It was tough to see her in the NICU.  I could not pick her up because she was sleeping, only hold her little hand.  She looked so vulnerable, but overall she was doing well.  She had only needed breathing support for the first day and she had weighed 5 pounds 8 ounces at birth (probably because I had started eating large bowls of ice cream every night once I found out she was going to be delivered early, I was trying to fatten her up and it seems like it worked!)  She had a minor heart murmur and was being looked at by a pediatric cardiologist, who said she had a VSD.   This is very common in preemies and luckily she outgrew it by the time she was two years old. 

I more or less recovered and was allowed to leave on Sunday, still with a catheter in my bladder and a bag I had to change. I was not allowed to urinate on my own because they did not want the bladder muscle to be stressed.   Leaving the hospital without Cassie was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do emotionally.   I was sobbing as I got in the car.   I came home and ate dinner and tried to act normal, but it just didn’t feel right without her at home.  I spent some time with Luke, who had come to see me in the hospital, but had not seen Cassie yet. It was difficult to play with him because I had a vertical incision, and the catheter, and I was in a lot of pain.  I could hardly stand up straight and walked very slowly.  During the night, I woke up and became extremely nauseous and then was violently ill.  My dad came downstairs and found me in the bathroom, which was a complete mess.  I had not made it to the toilet in time and there was vomit everywhere.   He helped me clean myself up and then I went back to bed while he cleaned the bathroom.   
The next morning I felt like I was dying.  I had vomited everything I could, I had chills and terrible dry heaves.  I have never been so miserable in my life.   We called the doctor and they sent Brad for some anti-nausea medication that did not help at all.  Finally, I took a shower and my Dad and I met Brad at my doctor’s office.  Brad had stormed his way in earlier insisting the doctor see me, which was unnecessary but typical of his style.   I saw the doctor and she sent us to the emergency room for some diagnostics and then probably to be re-admitted.
After a long, cold wait in the ER, they gave me some powerful anti-nausea medication through an IV and did an x-ray to check for a bowel obstruction.  They did not know what was wrong with me, so I was re-admitted – just over 24 hours from when I left – I even got the same room that someone had apparently been in one night because I found leftovers in the fridge.  Brad stayed through the admission as my dad, holding back tears, left to go get my son at school.  It was pretty horrible.   I was in the hospital for another week, but they never did figure out what was wrong.  I was slowly able to eat more food and went home again without Cassie.  She continued to do well, but still would not take a bottle.   I continued to pump breast milk and was freezing it and taking it for them to feed her, which they gladly did.  Especially with preemies they prefer to give breast milk if feasible.

Finally she took a bottle and eventually they let me try to breastfeed her.   They said it was too tiring for her though, so I could not do it very often, and it was not terribly successful.   I went to see her every day she was there after I left the second time.    Finally they said she was ready and I had to bring the car seat up for a test.  They put the babies in the car set for a couple of hours to make sure they don’t stop breathing or have heart problems in the sitting position.    She passed the test and then they had to give her a Synagis shot to help prevent RSV , since she was born in December.  Once all of that was done, they had one more check with the neonatologist.  Brad and I had planned to go to a movie that afternoon as we waited for the final tests.  They called earlier than we expected and said we could come get her, so we skipped the movie and went to pick her up.  So three and a half weeks after she was born, she came home.   Her actual due date was still weeks away.
They had told me to alternate bottle feeding breast milk with breastfeeding because it was too difficult for her to breastfeed.  Luckily she was my second, so I more or less knew what I was doing and after 24 hours of complete frustration with the alternating process I decided to drop the bottles and feed her myself exclusively.  I’m glad I did, it was difficult at first, but she eventually got the hang of it.   I was still pumping, though, because I had too much milk.  She was little and couldn’t each much, my body thought I had a much bigger baby by then.  

She fattened up nicely and was a little behind in her milestones like smiling, laughing, sitting and crawling.  But by eighteen months she was completely caught up, and she is a perfectly happy healthy almost five year old girl now.   She is the light of my life and we will always have a special bond.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cassie's Story Part 1 of 2

And now for something completely different

A big part of my life that I have not shared on my blog in detail is about my pregnancy with my daughter and her birth.  It’s world prematurity day on November 17th, so I thought I would write my story.  For several years I could not really celebrate her birthday without re-living the drama below.  I would think about what was going on on the particular days in the year she was born and remember those stressful moments of my life all over again.  It got a little less painful each year and last year she had to have surgery for a completely different issue right before her birthday.  I was so stressed about that, that most of the other stuff got pushed to the back of my mind.  I still don’t know what’s going to happen this year, but I am hopeful that I will not be consciously re-living it as the days go by.   On to the story…..
I had some complications with my son’s birth, where the placenta was too well attached to my uterus and my uterus tore when they tried to get the placenta out after his c-section birth.   I lost a lot of blood and was in surgery for 3 hours as they repaired the holes to save my uterus.   It’s called placenta accreta.  I was on an epidural during all of this.  I was sort of out of it, but I heard a lot of what was going on as the doctors were talking to each other, calling for more doctors, and calling for instruments that they did not have there in the delivery operating room.  It was pretty stressful.   I spent one night in a segregated ICU type room before I went to the regular recovery floor for ob/gyn surgeries.  I was considered too sick to be on the normal post-partum floor with the other mothers.  I was in the hospital for a week recovering and luckily they let Luke stay in the hospital as well,  since I was breastfeeding.  

After I recovered and went back to work, I realized I really wanted a sibling for Luke, so I did some research and found out that this problem can be deadly.  If it’s bad enough both mother and baby could bleed to death during delivery or before if something were to happen, such as the placenta tearing.  I discussed it with my doctor and they really don’t know what causes it, so she could not say if it was likely to happen again or not.   We discussed that if I got pregnant again, I would need to be prepared that they might have to do a hysterectomy right after the c-section delivery.  It would be way too dangerous to consider a vaginal birth. 
After thinking it through, I decided that I really wanted a sibling for my son, so I tried for another baby and got pregnant again.    I was being taken care of by my primary ob-gyn and a perinatologist  The perinatologist did a higher level ultra-sound than normal to check to see if there were problems with the placenta, and he was worried enough to send me to have an MRI with another specialist.  I was 30 weeks pregnant when I went in for the procedure.  They did the MRI and another special ultrasound, which confirmed my worst fears.  There are three levels of this placenta problem and I had the most severe one, called placenta percreta.    I was devastated and crying.   I was supposed to go into work after the procedure, but I couldn’t because I was so upset.    Basically the placenta had started growing into my bladder and possibly my intestines and it was only going to get worse with time. The baby and I were both in danger.   I’m crying even now as I type this remembering  how sad and scared I was. 

I went home to digest what had happened and my primary ob-gyn called after a few hours.  She has consulted with both specialists and they decided the best course of action was to deliver the baby in four weeks and do a hysterectomy and bladder repair at the same time.  My baby would be six weeks early.   Again, I was devastated.   My need to have another child had put my life in danger and now hers as well.  She would be premature and usually that turns out okay when they are born at 34 weeks, but you never know for sure.  My doctor wanted me to check in to the hospital two days before Cassie was born so I could be given a steroid shot to help develop her lungs before the birth, since preemies often have problem with their lungs.

I went into action mode the next day.  I told my boss I would be taking leave earlier than planned.  I researched premature infants. We visited the NICU where they would be taking my daughter. I called my dad to come help in general and specifically with my son.

The next four weeks were torture.  I felt guilty and I was terrified.   I was instructed to go to the ER immediately if I started bleeding or felt any real labor signs.    I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions since early on, so that was particularly nerve wracking.   Every time I went to the bathroom I was praying that there wouldn't be any signs of blood.  It was horrible, knowing that the baby and I could both possibly bleed to death before we got to the hospital if something went wrong. 

Finally, I checked in on a Saturday, she was to be delivered on Monday.  This was a huge relief.  At least I was at the hospital and if something bad happened, it could most likely be taken care of.   Everyone was prepared.  We had a team of specialists lined up to deliver the baby, do a hysterectomy, and then repair my bladder and anything else that was affected by the overgrown placenta.

On Monday morning, they wheeled me down to put in a catheter and then do another procedure that put some inflation type balloons in the arteries in my legs.   After the baby was delivered, they would inflate the balloons to staunch the flow of blood to my uterus and the placenta as they did the hysterectomy.    I was sobbing the whole time off and on.  I was scared I might not wake up from the surgery due to blood loss or some other problem. I was scared the baby might not be okay.   My back was killing me from lying flat for so long at seven and a half months pregnant -  the procedure to put in the balloons was taking forever.  Finally they wheeled me up to the operating room.   Four doctors were there and more were coming later.  At this point, I was just ready for this ordeal to be over.  They put the IV in my arm to put me under and put the mask over my face.  Fade to black.  

Continued..

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Will it never stop?

I had yet another run in with Brad today. He was dropping Cassie off after a soccer party and decided to pick up the Christmas tree. For some bizarre reason he wanted to ‘trade’ the one that I had (that he had bought for us a few years ago) with the one he bought for himself last year. No idea why, but I don’t care enough to argue about it.

The problem is that have had four dates with the same guy over the last month, so Brad has now gotten extremely anxious about a potential step-father for the kids. It’s just ridiculous to assume anything after only four dates, but that's how his mind works. He is really convinced I am looking for a replacement for him and that I want some other man to take over in the kids’ lives. Sure, I would like them to have a positive role model, which Brad is clearly not; but I know they love him and he will always be their father and I would never do anything to jeopardize that unless I thought he was harming them. But he doesn’t get that.

He very aggressively told me today that I have ‘be a good mom’ and not let some other man take over, and I have to make sure the kids see Brad in a good light. He was raising his voice and pointing his finger at me. He wants me to make sure they know it’s his birthday, buy him Christmas presents, etc. He said “I want you to do the right thing or know that I will come down on you if you don’t. So think about that, and make a conscious decision to do what I want you do if you don’t want me to come down on you.” He also wants me to tell him everything they do that’s cute, or whatever, and he wants all the ‘milestones’. Things like the first time they go snow skiing or water skiing have to be with him and not my future partner. It’s just crazy, I may not even ever have a future partner, but he’s already worried about it.

He threatened to ‘sue’ me if I did not tell him what they did when he was not around. His rationale is that I ‘have them so much more of the time’. Which is sort of true, but next year he’ll have them a lot more time and will have them overnight on his weekends. Plus, he sees them all the time with the various soccer practices, games and other lessons, so I don’t think he needs a blow by blow, but he feels entitled to one.

What he does not understand is that his aggressive stance and various threats actually hurt his cause rather than help it. He is completely incapable of understanding that his behavior is wrong. He feels  justified because he feels he is right. The argument got pretty bad and I finally told him he had to leave or I would call the police. He seemed to back down a very tiny bit when he realized how upset I was. But I know it’s going to come up again and I’m so frustrated because I don’t know what to do. Shutting him down and not talking to him makes him more angry, but talking to him sometimes leads to confrontation as well. I’m in a lose/lose situation and there really is no end in sight. 

It’s a little bit depressing. I hope that maybe once he has them more next year, his obsession will wear off, because he is truly obsessed with them. Perhaps once he has more of his own relationship with them he will not feel like he needs to rely on me to tell him what they are doing. I wish I knew. In the meantime I have to figure how to respond or not respond to him in these situations. Nothing I do will really make a difference because he is not rational, and I have to keep reminding myself of that. I have tentatively decided to tell him I will not tell him any more about my personal life and only talk about the kids. I may lose my nerve to tell him that, though. We’ll see.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween

I had to spend an hour walking around with Brad and the kids at Halloween.   It was awful, but it could have been a lot worse.  Since Brad did not go last year, he asked to take them this year and I agreed.  I had hoped the kids would let me stay home, but they didn’t want me to.  They wanted us all to go, so I went.  

I have mixed emotions about this for a few reasons.    I understand the kids want and need both of us, and showing them that we have a civil relationship is good.  But, I don’t want them to think that Brad and I are ‘together’, or that we might get back together.  Luke has never asked if daddy was coming back to live with us after he left, but Cassie has a couple of times.  She would say things like ‘If you and Daddy could stop fighting, he could come back, right?”  This, when she was three years old.   She hasn’t asked recently that I remember.   I think they see him as a distinct individual now, he as his own house and does his own thing with them.  So hopefully they won’t see any false hope from these types of activities.  Brad does have a girlfriend now and I wonder what she thinks, or if she knows, that we all went together for trick-or-treating.  

My biggest problem with the whole thing is that it continues to be very uncomfortable for me to be around Brad.  His controlling and invasive behavior is essentially non-stop.  His two current problems with me are that I occasionally feed the kids a can a sliced new potatoes and that I have started dating.  The food thing is controlling and annoying – he says he just wants to help and that he will cook potatoes and bring them over to avoid me giving them canned ones.  Really?  Because the reason I do it is because I’m in a hurry to throw something together after soccer practice, not because I don’t want to cook real potatoes.   Plus, they really like the new potatoes.
The dating thing brings up a whole host of other issues for him.   On the one hand, he says he wants me to move on and find a boyfriend, on the other hand he’s asking questions he has no right to ask.   While we were walking around, he asked me if I would be spending anytime over Thanksgiving with my friend.  The day before that he asked if had come home yet from my date Saturday night.   I’ve only had two dates with the guy, so I think it’s a little premature to talk about Thanksgiving, but Brad is anxious and wants to know right away.   After asking me on Sunday if I had been home yet, he also proceeded to tell me twice that if I ever let another man discipline his kids that he would “lay him out first and let him know only you or I can discipline them.”   So he’s already imagined a step-father scenario and has physically threatened my future husband.  Nice.

Back to Halloween. He could tell I was hanging back and not really trying to engage as we were walking around and he asked why it was uncomfortable for me.  I just can’t fathom why he doesn’t understand, but he doesn’t.  I explained I was uncomfortable because of the types of questions he asks, just like the one about my date and Thanksgiving.  He insists he is just being friendly and that he’s not critical.  He also insists that if I was nicer to him by telling him everything the kids do when they’re not with him, that he’d stop doing the things that annoy me.   It’s all very complicated and he’s very passionate when he talks about it, but bottom line it’s the exact same behavior as when we were married.

If I do fill in the blank with any over the top nice thing he wants  and prove to him that I can change my behavior to make him happy, he will stop fill in the blank with any abusive behavior his is currently doing.   This is how his mind works,  “I will stop doing bad stuff after you do good stuff for me”.  We had that same argument a thousand times when we were married and I could not, and still cannot get him to understand that it’s a threat.  And above all, it does not work.  He never stops his bad behavior regardless of what I do.  He really hasn’t changed a bit.  I feel sorry for the girlfriend.