Successful Travel, Mostly Successful Week

Last week I took the baby by myself halfway across the country. It was the baby’s first plane ride, and he did a really good job. No fussing or crying the entire time.

And we had a good week. He played with his slightly older cousin and met two of his aunts and *shudder* my mom. We had a good time at his cousin’s birthday party–our reason for coming–although I had an unfortunate experience with some wine.

I was mostly on the no sugar plan all week, except for the party. I had everything I wanted to at the party and again the next day as we were eating party leftovers. Despite that, I was down a pound this morning. I call that a real success.

We had some sad moments, though. I developed an allergic reaction to something on Friday and my eye swelled shut so I was taking massive quantities of benedryl. This was a contributing factor to the unfortunate wine incident because apparently it takes more than a couple of hours to clear 26 hours of heavy benedryl consumption from your system and heavy benedryl use and wine do NOT go well together. Consider yourselves warned.

I had to spend more than an hour listening to my mom try to tell me insane stories about everything she hadn’t been able to tell me since I cut her off. And that included a LOT of complaining about my sister. It takes some balls to sleep in a person’s house, with the blanket literally from their bed, and criticize them. But that’s how my mom rolls.

My biggest problem was with the baby, though. My sister and her husband kept talking about how small the baby was, how far behind he is on his physical milestones. First they tried to figure out why he was so far behind. Then, apparently realizing it was upsetting to me, they started to ostentatiously talk about how people are too concerned with the milestones and all babies get there eventually and it’s fine, everything’s fine.

But it definitely made me feel like my baby is a dud. It was already hard to see the baby in comparison with his older, very smart, literal model baby cousin. To see him and see people think he was lacking in and of himself was tremendously hard.

I am so tired. We got home very late last night, and I took my older daughter to her therapy appointment at her dad’s request, because he didn’t want to take the time or pay the copay, and then when I gave him a courtesy text to let him know we were almost to his job after the appointment but were stopping at a drive through because she was thirsty, he snarled at me that I didn’t have permission to do that, just bring her straight to him.

From there, I went to my friend’s house to dog sit. Essentially, I was up 23 hours straight last night, slept for 7, was awake for 2 hours at home and then left and didn’t get back for another 7 hours.

I’m back off the sugar now, and the cravings seem to be minimal. That’s a very big relief to me, I was concerned that I would be swamped by cravings.

 

Two Weeks Without Sugar

Last week, after 5 days without sugar I was down about two pounds. This week, after another nearly perfect week, I’m down another 2.6 pounds. I’m only 5 pounds from what I weighed before I stress ate for six weeks ahead of the baby’s surgery, and only twelve pounds more than my lowest weight since the weight gain, the week after the baby was born when I had no appetite.

The only thing I’ve had that’s off plan is the toast part of the avocado toast I had at a brunch yesterday, but there was literally nothing there I could eat on-plan so I was going to be imperfect anyway and avocado toast is incredibly delicious.

Moving away from weight to other things, I’m still basically not working, which is bad because I’m still hemorrhaging money getting the basic stuff I need for the trip I’m making tomorrow morning and the things the kids need for school. I’m not working this week either, because I have only about an hour here before I have to go puppy-sit for my friend and when I get back it will be just eating and finishing packing and heading to bed because my flight is at 5:45 tomorrow morning.

The other big news is that my oldest is having a mental breakdown from the pressure of living with a diagnosed narcissist who doesn’t care what she feels like as long as she’s making him look good. She’s been writing depressed poems and short stories and one of her friends saw one and immediately told a teacher, who turned her over to the counselor.

The counselor told both sets of parents that she needs real therapy. Interestingly, she has a therapist–I had to go back to court and fight tooth and nail for it, and he fought against it to the extent where the therapist agreed the middle ground was to see the kids every six months–which is just about now–for evaluation purposes and only increase their schedule of therapy if they need it. Now we see if she’s going to behave ethically and increase her therapy regimen because she’s been cutting herself and definitely needs help.

Her dad’s take: she’s looking for attention. My new baby is why. She doesn’t want to get the dramatically shorter haircut he and his wife were about to force upon her and so she’s making up a problem to avoid it.

Her stepmom’s take: the teacher who was informed by her friend and reported it to the counselor is a male, and therefore the entire relationship he has with her is inappropriate if she felt more comfortable talking to him instead of a female teacher.

We spent the weekend trying to give her love and space, trying to give her self-care tools, trying to undo the damage that he caused her when he accused her of faking it.

And I sent an email to the school trying to protect her teacher, because there’s no indication anywhere that he’s been inappropriate, and I don’t want to see him go down for this.

She sees the therapist tomorrow, on her dad’s time, and he’s going to take her. I don’t know what pressure he’s going to put on her before she sees the therapist, but I hope she can handle it. I won’t see her until next week, because I’m going out of town and so is she, she has an overnight school event that was scheduled in advance on the time I would normally have her.

I’m very worried about her. It’s all pretty terrifying. We’re almost certainly going to have more legal fights as a result of this, but for now the main thing is to stabilize her.

 

 

 

The End of Sugar

Lo, these many months ago, my endocrinologist told me to eliminate sugar and refined carbs from my diet. I started by making a single change a week until the entire diet was right, and I was almost completely sugar free when they scheduled the baby’s surgery and I decided to eat everything for six weeks.

I gained almost twelve pounds from the pre-surgery weight, and all told I was up about seventeen pounds from my lowest weight after the baby was born.

Added to this, I’m having a really bad depressive run. I’m sad all the time, and even playing with the baby doesn’t make me happy.

Last week, after ordering and eating an entire medium pizza on Tuesday (WHAT WAS I DOING?!) I decided it’s time to just commit to the no sugar concept. Fortunately the husband is willing to do it with me, which makes it a lot easier, and we changed up the planned meals for the days the older kids are home from their dad’s house to be plan-appropriate, so we’re moving now.

There was some immediate movement on the weight, and I’ve lost the weight that I gained from the pizza (although obviously part of that was almost certainly bloat or temporary weight) plus almost another two pounds.

The basic plan is: protein shake for breakfast, baked sweet potato fries for lunch, big salad with hard boiled egg and beans for dinner, and fruit, nuts and cheese for snacks.

I need to kick my water consumption up, I’m definitely not drinking enough water, and I think that will help.

Upcoming challenge: I’m going to be out of town visiting family for 6 days next week, for a party. I won’t be in control of what I have access to in the nature of food. We shall see what happens.

So far, I don’t feel a lot of withdrawal, and I’m not hungry or miserable. I may be feeling slightly less depressed, but it’s hard to say. Regardless, this is not as bad as I’d thought it would be. The key is definitely the husband’s buy in because it’s practically impossible to be committed to something as rough as no sugar and no refined carbs when there’s someone bringing danishes into the house.

 

 

Setbacks

I was doing fairly well last week–I was eating mostly according to my plan, which involved eating a sweet potato for one of my meals, and having an apple for one of my snacks, and I had increased my water consumption, meeting my goal of nearly a gallon two days in a row.

And then the baby had his belated six month checkup. My insurance coverage through the marketplace ended at the end of the year, but this is not open enrollment on my husband’s plan so he had to apply to add me and the baby, which shouldn’t have been a problem. They couldn’t add us until the coverage had actually ended, which was on 12/31. He added us immediately on the first, but when we got to the doctor, they couldn’t confirm the baby’s coverage.

They made us wait for an hour past our appointment time, and then we asked them what the problem was and they let us go back. The nurse said, sorry, they said there was an insurance issue, but since you’re self-paying now, that’s not a problem. We immediately said, no, we’re not self-paying. The insurance is fine, it might be a little delayed but it will work. And she said, I can’t give you the vaccines until we get this resolved.

Remember, this visit was already very delayed, nearly 3 weeks past when he should have gone, because we had to delay it because of the surgery. At this point I’m thinking about vaccination schedules getting screwed up and him having to take more vaccines at a single visit than he should need sometime in the future.

The husband is calling his insurance, talking to the people at the front desk, and I was just sitting in the exam room crying because I didn’t know how it was going to work at all. What if they never let us on the insurance and the baby isn’t covered for this? This is not a great time to be relying on the marketplace.

Finally they agreed to give us the shots even though the insurance situation was not resolved.

The good news is that the baby had gained an entire pound in the 8 days since he had seen his surgeon. The bad news is that he’s still too small. He’s a preemie, but not a severe one–he was born at 36.5 weeks–but he’s sitting at 8 percent on his weight and 13 percent on his height.

The really bad news is that his reluctance to roll is a real problem now. He has to get it together or when we go in at nine months he’s going to be sent for evaluation for developmental delays and baby therapy to teach him to roll.

And by this point I was basically in a tailspin. The insurance concerns, plus his weight and height problems which are definitely because I couldn’t stay pregnant longer, plus his developmental delay on the rolling, also because he was early…it was so bad.

Then I started to get emails from the older kids’ schools about their science fair projects, referencing things I had never heard of which means that the schools are once again not communicating information to me, despite my many many requests that they give me a copy of important information. It also means that once again, my ex is in total violation of the court orders because he has to keep me informed.

It was a bad day. I ate everything. And I spent the entire weekend trying to get myself back in line. I need better strategies for handling these kinds of meltdowns. But until the insurance situation is resolved I can’t go back to therapy, either.

ALSO it’s worth noting that I once again tried to fight the good fight with Humana and am still not making any progress. I have 3 outstanding issues with them:

  1. They double charged me a premium payment legit 2 years ago, January 2015. They acknowledge that they definitely charged me twice, but refuse to refund that second premium payment.
  2. They inexplicably refuse to pay for my c-section. I met my out of pocket maximum, but they won’t pay my OB for the c-section so I have a 500 dollar bill over my head for that procedure and they keep saying that I have to pay for it myself because they SHOULD have processed that payment first but didn’t, so…I don’t know. They want me to get the hospital to refund me what I paid them and give that money to the OB? Does anyone think the hospital will refund me that money? No, no they will not.
  3. They also inexplicably refused to pay for my therapy, just during October. The therapist says they did that to EVERY patient covered by Humana that month but they aren’t fixing it for anyone either. So now I owe my therapist hundreds of dollars.

Can I take Humana to small claims court, do you think? It’s so terrible. It’s like 2k that is wrong here, between what I’m being billed for and what they owe me.

 

 

Put It Back Together

Now that the baby has successfully had his surgery, and we’re into the new year, it’s time for us to put the pieces back together.

The good news is that we don’t have any other massive bills staring us in the face like we had with the surgery and nothing else terrible like the surgery or the high-risk pregnancy in our immediate future.

The bad news is, the damage from this past year is extensive and severe.

Between the surgery and the pregnancy, we went a further 4kish into debt. I weigh the same this morning as I did the day before I delivered the baby. The platinum insurance plan is now gone, so therapy is no longer an option for me.

We’re going to have to take the ex back to court because he persistently insists that he has the right to revoke my visitation at any time, and the school is letting him do so.

The fight with the school is another beast breathing down my back.

The house is still in trouble–we definitely have a water leak somewhere that we can’t find, and I have a SERIOUS fear that it’s under the foundation. Just last night the dog ripped a hole in the fence to escape because he can’t handle the fireworks our neighbors continue to send off.

We let the baby stop working on stuff like tummy time and other difficult enrichment options during the week prior to and after the surgery, so he’s falling behind there. Following the surgery, he’s not been eating and so he’s losing weight, a problem that appears to be continuing and the surgeon’s office is disavowing all responsibility and telling us to take it to the primary care.

The baby only sleeping 2-3 times a day at 30 minutes a pop is not helpful for my ability to work, either, which is no good considering the need for money that is very real.

It’s a lot.

The problems can be broken up, broadly, into several categories.

  1. Physical: this includes my weight loss, the baby’s need to gain weight, the baby’s need to get back on track with his developmental milestones.
  2. Financial: this includes the debt issues, the home repair issues, the lack of savings we have, the need for basic things like a dining table and chairs.
  3. Outside stressors: I put things like the upcoming lawsuit into this category, as well as the issues with the school for the older kids.

The husband is set to get a raise probably in the summer, which will help tremendously, but there’s many many months between here and there.

For now, we can only start where we are and do baby steps. In this case, that involves a simple set of tasks for me.

  1. Start getting the food under control. Ideally I’d be following the sugar-free diet as suggested by my endocrinologist. That involves oatmeal and berries for breakfast, a sweet potato or a mixed salad for lunch, the other one of those things for dinner, and cheese, nuts, fruit and hard boiled eggs for snacks. With a frozen fruit bar for dessert. For this week I’m going to start by eating a sweet potato and an apple every day. We’ll add more of the foods in once that habit is solidified.
  2. Start getting the work back on track. I can do a short, easy article for a ridiculously low amount of money in about 20 minutes. This will not solve my money issues but it will give me at least something coming in and I should be able to find that 20-30 minutes every day.
  3. We can’t do the lawsuit until we get a tax return, but I can push the school again when they resume this week unless I see some results from the meeting I took with the principal before the winter break. I have doubts about that meeting having any real effect, but only time will tell.

Going forward, I want to see something more like this:

Physical:

Food: oatmeal and berries, apple, cheese and nuts, sweet potato, mixed salad, fruit bar. If I do that, it’s exactly 1300 calories a day, which is reasonable.

I also need to kick up my water intake. I’ve been tracking my water consumption for the past week and most days I have as much coffee as I have water, which…no. That’s bad.

The sleep has been largely better but not always–last night, for example, I was up till 3am.

Also, I’m averaging 5600 steps a day, which is not ideal.

Financial:

One of the little articles every day, plus some mturk to give me an Amazon balance that can cover things like birthday and Christmas presents going forward. I’d like to start doing mini-ebooks once a week and putting them on the Kindle store to start to get some residual income coming in.

Other:

With the end of therapy as an option in my life, meditation and journaling just became essential.

I need to find a better way to maintain my peace while working with those assholes at the school.

I need to be able to calmly handle the lawsuit, which…I don’t know how that’s going to work.

I need to be pushing the baby on his rolling, which he’s past due for. He CAN roll, but he hates it and mostly just yells at me when I ask him to do it. He shouldn’t be doing that at this age, he should be able to roll easily and not get angry. His pediatrician is fine with him just working on muscle control but I’ll feel better if he rolls easily.

Also I have a bunch of Montessori resources I need to sort through and start doing with him, it’s time for him to get better enrichment all around.

It’s a lot. It’s so much, it’s incredibly overwhelming.

But for this week, it’s simple enough:

  1. eat a sweet potato every day
  2. eat an apple every day
  3. do an article every day
  4. make the baby do his tummy time every day
  5. go on a walk around the block every day