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The Winter of Our Discontent

Song Lyric of the Day:

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days / When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

Twenty One Pilots / “Stressed Out

I’m over this winter. Normally I love winter since it’s cold and I can’t overheat like I do in late spring and then summer, but this winter has been miserable. Why exactly? Because Sebastian has been sick since January 12. I remember the date, because it was the day before Rich was due to leave for India for work for 13 days. Good timing. Sebastian woke up covered in vomit that morning, so we of course immediately thought “flu!” and rushed him to the doc. It turned out to be a stomach bug and a little cold. Rich felt better leaving for his trip knowing he was not leaving me with a flu-afflicted baby.

Sebastian then got a virus, which started clearing up after a few days. Meanwhile, as Rich was away and that always upsets the natural balance of things, Knoxville got snow. One whole inch of snow led to three school snow days in a row — combined with MLK Day that Monday, Coraline and I were home with her sick brother almost all week. At least she had school that Friday, albeit on a two-hour delay.

The second Sunday Rich was away, Sebastian got sick again and was so weak with fever and bordering on lethargic that I was positive his virus had turned into the flu. I called my mom to come sit with Coraline so I could take him to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital to get looked at. When I told Coraline that Abuela was coming to watch her so I could take her brother to the hospital to get checked out, my poor girl got hysterical. She adores her baby brother and has been terrified of him getting the flu since she knows it can be fatal for babies. I did my best to calm her down, although I ended up crying a little bit, too, since she was so upset. I reassured her that I was sure the docs at the hospital would tell me I was just being a paranoid mommy, but she replied with, “I just want to spend as much time with him as I can while I can,” as she went to embrace her brother. It’s not like hearing her say that, through sobs, ripped my heart out or anything. Mom got to our house in about a half hour (she ROCKS) and Sebastian and I left for the hospital. I managed to stake out a corner in the waiting room relatively away from other people; it was full that night, and half the kids were wearing face masks because of flu-like symptoms. We got there around 8:20PM and didn’t end up getting home until 12:55AM. Turns out it wasn’t the flu, just the first day of a new, second virus. Poor Sebastian had blood drawn and spent most of the night in my arms practically fainting from his fever.

The next week was a bit of a blur as Sebastian had me up several times every night. I took to calling him the Fever King since he had so many I lost count. I’m very fortunate in that my job is portable and I can work from home, so when Sebastian felt well enough to play I’d work. I’d then haul ass to get even more work done while he napped since that was my longest uninterrupted stretch during the day. But with a very sick baby who is very clingy when not feeling well, I ended up working most nights after the kids were in bed to finish what I couldn’t during the day. I’d wrap up working for the night between 10 and 11PM, then rush to do a few household things, then try to get an hour or two of sleep before Sebastian’s first wakeup. He’d inevitably wake up with a fever; we’ve gone through I don’t know how many bottles of Infants’ Tylenol and Infants’ Motrin these last few weeks.

Finally the Friday arrived when Rich was flying home. One hour before his scheduled landing, I was changing Sebastian’s diaper before heading to the airport when I noticed his torso was covered in a rash. Another call to the nurse triage line (my second or third at this point) followed. Rich landed safely and the nurse called back while we were at the luggage carousel. After I answered what felt like 100 questions, the nurse assured me she was certain it was Roseola, which meant that the virus was coming to an end. Finally, our little boy was going to be well again, right? Yeah, not so much.

Sebastian was still sick enough that I had to keep working from home with him, but now with Rich home again, he was able to work from home with him a bit so I could get in to the office a few days. Because things weren’t fun enough, Coraline’s school district canceled school Monday and Tuesday that week due to illness since so many kids and teachers were out with the flu (among other things). They had school Wednesday, only to have school canceled the remainder of the week. That weekend Sebastian got sicker — again.

As he was exhibiting flu-like symptoms again, back to the doctor we went. It wasn’t a virus this time, but his first-ever ear infection. He got prescribed an antibiotic, but a few days later somehow got sicker while on it. Back to the doc, where he got diagnosed with a double ear infection and put on a second, different antibiotic. And — because this has been the winter that keeps on giving — you guessed it, he got sicker. Back to the doc, where his doctor took one look in Sebastian’s ear and said it was so infected even a first-year med student could diagnose it. That’s right — his double ear infection had gotten worse while on the second antibiotic. Sebastian was then put on Augmentin, which eventually made progress on the ear infection while destroying his stomach in the process. His doctor had warned us how harsh it would be on Sebastian’s stomach, but boy, it was more vicious than we anticipated.

As I write this, a little more than seven weeks since Sebastian first got sick, he’s still not quite back to 100 percent. He’s pretty close, though — I’d put him around 90 percent. He went eight days before developing another fever this past Friday, but it was a low-grade one of 100 degrees. He also currently has a very runny nose and a little cough; the last few weeks he learned to recognize the Boogie Wipes package, so that’s made wiping his nose extra fun since he fights it. (I don’t know why since those wipes are awesome when you’re sick.) Best of all, he’s eating again. He had next to no appetite at his sickest; breastfeeding was all that was keeping him from dehydrating. And, if I’m honest, as a Puerto Rican, it freaked me out that he wouldn’t eat. When people don’t eat, it freaks us out. We need to feed you. Not eating is weird and scary. At least Sebastian would take his beloved pouches, which oftentimes were the only thing he’d eat for days on end.

I know things could have been much worse, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the most stressed I’ve been in ages during Sebastian’s illnesses, particularly while Rich was out of the country. I made a point to thank Coraline for behaving so well while her dad was away, since she was a big help with her brother. I’m lucky that my parents and sister are in town (as well as close friends) and a phone call away if I need anything, like the night I needed to take Sebastian to the hospital. Now seven-plus weeks, three antibiotics, lots of Children’s Benadryl, Infants’ Tylenol, Infants’ Motrin, 4 negative flu tests, 4 negative RSV tests, and one negative strep throat test later, my baby is finally getting back to his normal, silly, noisy, bottomless eating pit, mess-making self.

Now if only it were spring …

Sebastian on the go

Taken when he felt good one morning, before he napped and woke up with a raging fever later that day (2/19/18).

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Done Went and Had a Baby

Song Lyric of the Day:

Like when I close my eyes and don’t even care if anyone sees me dancing / Like I can fly, and don’t even think of touching the ground / Like a heartbeat skip, like an open page / Like a one way trip on an aeroplane / It’s the way that I feel when I’m with you, brand new

Ben Rector / “Brand New

I logged in to my blog the other day, trying to remember if my last post was in the spring (I could have sworn it was), only to be shocked to see the last time I posted was the day before Sebastian was born. That’s right – I now have a second kid, Coraline is a (fabulous) big sister, and Rich has his very own Mini Me. My unintentionally long, almost year-long blogging break reminded me of the short-lived show Up All Night, when Will Arnett’s character reminds Christina Applegate’s character that she last updated Facebook the night before their baby was born, and that people probably thought she’d died. As with me, that was happily not the case.

So what have I been up to these last 11 months? The first six weeks after Sebastian was born were all about surviving an ungodly level of exhaustion. There were nights he would wake up after only 20 minutes of catnapping; I can’t rightly call what he was doing sleeping. Why was he up so often? Because we didn’t get really good at nursing until he was about 6 weeks old. Once he started latching correctly each time, he would get nice and full and then he would sleep. It was such a relief to finally get more than 20-minute catnaps. We’d get two-, three-, even four-hour stretches. It was glorious.

In hindsight, I never should have said Coraline was a bad sleeper as a baby, because sweet 6-pound, 8-ounce baby Jesus, Sebastian made his sister look like a fricking sleep Olympian. But we survived. Although at times it felt like I wouldn’t. I had several days where I would cry purely from exhaustion, as well as days I’d cry that it looked like he wasn’t putting on weight no matter how much I nursed him. Once we hit that 6-week mark, though, everything improved across the board. And boy, has breastfeeding this time around been an experience. I’ll try to write more about that another time; I promise it won’t be 11 months from now.

I admit that I was ready to try for a second kid a couple of years ago, but needing the spouse to be on board with that kind of thing is a pretty big deal. And, you know, kind of important. Coraline had of course been lobbying for a sibling for about three years prior to Sebastian being born. Originally she wanted a sister we would name Elsa. Then she decided a brother wouldn’t be so bad. Then she decided one of each would be great. I shot that idea down pretty quickly. She’s a great age to be a big sister, though. She’s been helpful from the get-go, getting me things she knew I’d need (wipes, the Boppy pillow, a burp cloth) before I asked for them. She’s also great with Sebastian and has even been able to soothe him at times when Rich and I couldn’t; it makes me believe that she really can understand his baby talk and interpret what he’s telling her. Sebastian is also pretty fond of her. Watching them interact is one of my life’s greatest joys. They’re also not yet old enough to fight, so I’m enjoying every second of their current peaceful existence.

I hope to get back into updating my blog semi-regularly. I’ve missed it — and writing in general. (My sincere thanks to the one reader who still checks in occasionally.) For now, though, I’m going to call it a night as I haven’t slept more than six hours straight in almost a year. Luckily it’s been for a very good reason.

My babies

Cora reads to (then 3-month-old) Sebastian

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15 Years Later

Song Lyric of the Day:

I thought a light went out, but now the candle shines / I thought my tears wouldn’t stop, then I dried my eyes / And after all of this, the truth that holds me here / Is that this emptiness is something not to fear

Mary Chapin Carpenter / “Between Here and Gone

I’ve written before about what this day means to me. This year it meant a new, fresh fear: Would Coraline ask me about it? Because I knew I wouldn’t be able to tell her about it without becoming a blubbering mess. How could I explain to my 5-year-old what I still don’t understand myself 15 years later? Thankfully, she didn’t bring it up, likely because she still hasn’t heard about it. When she does, though, Rich and I agreed that he will be the one to tell her about it. I’m sure I’ll be sitting right there with them both, but he’ll be able to maintain his composure where I wouldn’t.

Today, as always, I’ve been thinking about Adam. And Adam’s family and friends, which leads me to think about Ryan and his family and friends. To be honest, though, I think about both Adam and Ryan a lot, not just on this day.

Earlier this year my sister and parents went to New York City. While paying their respects at the World Trade Center Memorial, they took a picture of Adam’s name etched into the stone for me. They also brought me a little card showing the location of his name. I keep it on a shelf above my home desk so I see it every day. Because I, like so many others, will never forget.

Adam's memorial

Adam’s memorial

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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 17

Day 17: Things that make you scared

Ah, this list could go on forever. I already wrote about the horrific political climate. In addition to that, there are plenty of other real-world things that scare me: terrorism, health epidemics, the possibility of economic and social collapse, my recurring nightmare of being in a car accident, home invasions, being terrified of dying young and leaving Coraline without a mom, family and friends dying. Real, legitimate fears.

There also completely unrealistic things that scare me. Which is largely where my love of horror movies bites me in the ass. Despite knowing better, I usually end up watching scary movies when Rich is out of town. Which then makes me paranoid and reminds me of other scary movies, all of which basically are about the worst possible kind of home invasion: The Purge, You’re Next, The Strangers. I won’t get into how horror movies have also made me worry about camping and trick-or-treating.

Finally, there are these fuckers:


Wavy tubes are the devil’s advertising. Image found via Google search and Satan’s guiding hand.


Completely unnatural and totally terrifying.

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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 15

Day 15: The best thing to happen to you this week

After last week, I’ll go with the obvious: no family members have received grim prognoses, no one has passed away, and no one else has been diagnosed with cancer.

Fucking cancer made last week a living hell for me and many of my loved ones.

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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 13

Day 13: A date you would love to go on

Most of my and Rich’s dates consist of dinner and a movie. Assuming money wasn’t an issue, I guess a dream date would be somewhere far away from everyone and everything, and where we didn’t have a set agenda and could take our time deciding what to do. I’d also love to do something we’ve never done before: a hot-air-balloon ride, renting a boat for a weekend, visiting a new-to-us country (Spain, anyone?). Needless to say, this date would also involve Coraline overnighting at my parents’ house.

Since those kinds of dates are literally just dreams, I will continue to enjoy and appreciate the rare dates we enjoy these days, which are often dictated by a big Marvel movie release. That’s right — our next date night might very well be the day Captain America: Civil War comes out.

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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 12

Day 12: Things you want to say to an ex

I don’t want to say anything to my ex. But if you put a gun to my head, I guess this is what I’d say, in no particular order:

  • I’m sorry for your loss.
  • I think you and your family need sensitivity training when it comes to dealing with someone with an alcoholic in the family.
  • I’m glad you and your brother married a Hispanic and Asian woman, respectively. Way to stick it to your racist parents!
  • I wish we’d stayed broken up the first time.
  • Thanks for showing me what I didn’t want in a significant other, because I definitely traded up.

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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 10

Day 10: Your views on drugs and alcohol

I’ve talked a little bit before about having grown up with an alcoholic father. Which is where I should stop and give him a shout out for his 24th year of sobriety. But the years he was a drinker definitely screwed up my views on alcohol — how could it not? I didn’t really try drinking until I was 25. I still don’t drink very often. Rich likes to tell me my vice is not having a vice, and it’s true. You know how at the doctor’s office you always have to check the box detailing your alcohol consumption? There’s not an accurate option for me, which would be less than one drink a month (on average). The way this week has been going, though, my monthly quota has already been met and will likely be surpassed.

I joke a lot about drinking or getting drunk. I don’t know if that’s normal for someone who grew up in my situation. I’m guessing it’s a coping mechanism. It lets me show that I’m in control of how much and when I drink, that I don’t routinely grab the nearest bottle when things get too rough or to take the edge off. So what is my view on alcohol? Seeing as how it’s still America’s drug of choice, honestly, if Prohibition made a comeback, I’d be OK with that. Although I would miss having the occasional wine cooler.

As for drugs? I’m not a user of, well, anything. Never have been, never will be. I did try some “magic” brownies once, and I’m glad I never tried pot in college. I would’ve gained the freshman 1500 based on the epic munchies I got; I wanted to basically eat all the food on the planet after those brownies. Then I fell asleep. But did I get some euphoric high, a relaxed feeling, feel the stress melt away, whatever it is pot is supposed to make you feel? No. As for anything harder than that … Narcotic painkillers make me barf. When I’ve had to be on them, it’s been miserable. Doctors would have to prescribe an anti-nausea medicine for me at the same time, which combined with the painkillers would just knock me out for a day. No fun.

I don’t understand why people turn to drugs when things get so horrible. OK, I do — they want an escape, to numb themselves to whatever is going on, but knowing that the hard stuff like heroin/oxy/cocaine/meth is addictive? Why willingly open yourself up to that kind of addiction? Have I struggled to find coping mechanisms over the years? Absolutely. And I still do, which is where therapy came in handy. Did I want to escape, numb myself to what was going on? Yes. But never once did I think drugs were the answer. Probably because I know the likeliness of addiction thanks to my soused genes.

I have mixed feelings about the legalization of pot. While it doesn’t do anything for me — and I never plan to try smoking it (or anything else, for that matter) — I think it can be used recreationally. I think it does some good for legitimate medical reasons, which it seems like a lot of people can’t claim. But, like with alcohol consumption, I worry about how many people would drive while impaired. And I hate the smell of pot. That was one of the worst things about being in Colorado last summer, walking through clouds of it and trying to shield Coraline from it. It’s enough that I have to deal with regular cigarette smoke when I’m out and about. I don’t want to deal with pot stink, too. But could I live with pot being legalized? I think I could.

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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 9

Day 9: Your last kiss

It was last night, when Rich was consoling me as I cried about a dear friend entering hospice.

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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 8

Day 8: Something I’m currently worrying about

An easier question would have been: What am I not worrying about. The people who know me best know I’m a worrier. I normally function at a baseline of anxiety, which ratchets up easier than I like to admit. It doesn’t take a lot to get me stressed out.

So what am I currently worrying about? Oh, so many things, which I won’t list here. I guess what I’m most worried about these days is the political climate in our country. At this point I’m for anyone not named Trump, be they Republican, Democrat, or Other. I think that oompa-loompa orange, cat-hair-toupeed, stubby-fingered, delusional, tantrum-throwing narcissist would do irreparable damage to the U.S. He’s saying what people want to hear, which they’re (unfortunately) responding to. I get that people are fed up with the two-party system — who isn’t at this point? — and tired of lying politicians — again, who isn’t? — but this is not the outsider who will make things better. He will not make America great again, largely because so much of his “platform” (it’s hard to take him seriously when he doesn’t offer specifics) is flat-out anti-American. So much of what he espouses goes against the very foundation of what America was founded on, which makes it all the more depressing to me that people are buying into what he’s selling.

I think this year it’s more important than ever that every voting American really thinks about who they are going to vote for, and doing the research to validate their choice. I’ve never been one to vote along party lines; I vote for who I think will do the best job. I’ve voted Democrat and I’ve voted Republican based on who I had faith in. We shouldn’t ever blindly vote for a candidate simply because that’s who our respective parties are offering up as their best man/woman/circus attraction for the job.

That’s my piece on the matter (you can see why I don’t often talk politics). I really feel like no matter who wins this year’s presidential election, our country is doomed. How doomed is up to us, though. We can elect a new leader who might manage to do a bit of good, or we can elect a bully businessman con artist who will lead us to ruin and cement the U.S.’s place as a universal punchline to a joke no one asked to hear in the first place.

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