little reminders

I got a letter in the mail from the hospital where I delivered Avalon. It stated that because my privacy was breached, they were required to notify me that the camera chip which stored photos of deceased babies for momentos to give to grieving parents was stolen, and despite a thorough investigation, they have not been recovered. Information on the chip may have included: mother’s name, mother’s birth date, baby’s weight, and baby’s photo.

I just think… god. Somewhere is this chip, and on it is all of these dead babies. And photos of mothers experiencing the most poignantly sad and traumatic event of their life (holding their dead baby).

It’s just like this collection of heartbreak was a balloon… and now it’s just out there, floating through the world. My story, our stories, just drifting into the universe, a message in a bottle, a signal beamed out into the night sky.

my other, other full-time job

My grandparents’ care is getting more and more complicated, and my grandma’s ability to manage it all is sharply declining. I spent all day at the doctor with them, a new geriatric specialist that I had them switch to. It was a great move, right where they need to be, but boy oh boy do we have our work cut out for us as far as managing all the meds, appointments, etc. We got home, I made them lunch, and got to work cancelling unnecessary appointments and rescheduling the necessary ones for my days off. If I don’t go, I never get a straight story about what was said or done. Then I filled the pill boxes and made all the med changes in them. Then I typed a new med list, and hung up the new DNR/DNI orders on the fridge with the med lists, with a note to all the caregivers about what to do in case one of them becomes unresponsive and they have to call 911.

We currently have four caregivers that cover 7-2pm, 4-9pm, and 10-7am shifts. At any given time, one or two of them is out sick/family emergency/whatever. Or they are complaining to me about each other and I’m referee-ing. Or my mother is filling in and she and my grandma don’t get along, so there’s that.

It’s strange to be the “kid” in the family for the first 20 odd years of your life, and then suddenly BAM, you’re the adult. No one else can keep the story straight, get the right info, or keep on top of everything anymore.

And this on top of being a mom, working full-time, and being in grad school! Isn’t it amazing that I’m not single? Don’t even ask when I have time for my relationship…

on a jet plane (with a toddler)

Flying to California last fall with a 6-month-old was hardly a piece of cake, but it was manageable. But flying with a 13-month-old? I have to admit, I’m feeling a little daunted. Here are the tricks I have up my sleeve:

An android zeepad tablet with several top-rated apps for her age group
Small toys wrapped in tinfoil
A box of bandaids
Lollipops
A bag of bags

And of course, bottles, pacifiers, small books, diapers, change of clothes, etc and so on.

Did I mention that my 84-year-old, not very mobile but very demanding,  grandmother is coming along? I volunteered to do this trip with her so she can see at least one of her grandkids have an actual wedding. And who knows when she will see us all together again, if ever? Hard to say who will be harder to travel with, the baby or the grandma, but my bets are totally on grandma.

And did I mention that I hate Dallas, and hate Texas? All that concrete, and heat. And “state pride”.

At least it will be 80 degrees. And we will be in a garden area, so I’m hoping for greenery. It will be nice to see my cousins and aunt, but otherwise we won’t know anyone, and since the wedding starts at 7pm, I guess we won’t be staying long. The baby will need to go down by 9pm, the grandma soon after.

 

what a day

Today started badly. I got a phone call at 7:20am, from my supervisor, asking me where I was. I was in bed, actually, sound asleep! I had totally gotten my schedule wrong! I hurriedly got dressed, planning to go in late, when my mom said, “I’m so sick, please don’t go.” Uh oh. No childcare, but you can’t just “no call no show” at work when you’re a nurse! They make assignments at 5am, so if you don’t call in by then you basically just short-staffed your whole unit and the patient or two who needed nurses. No good. I convinced my mom to hang in there until at least 3pm, when hopefully I could get a float nurse replacement.

But no, because when I got the car out of the garage, I was promptly stuck on my private lane. Stuck in the snow. My grandmother’s car was snowed in, as well as her back door. So I had to call my supervisor back and apologize profusely. I simply couldn’t go anywhere.

It ended up being serendipitous, because my mom had to spend the day in the ED, and my grandparents’ caregiver called in because HER husband was in the ED. No childcare, no grandparent care, and only me to take care of EVERY SINGLE one of them. 

I have an interview with a potential evening shift caregiver tomorrow. I need an evening shift and Saturday day shift person. I also need to find somewhere as back-up when my mom gets sick. Unless she gets sick on Saturdays or Mondays, my sister’s only days off. I wish there was a daycare that did drop-in. I could potentially do one day a week to give my mom a break. Or get my sister to agree to one day a week and I’ll give her some money, or something! My mom seems too tired when she watches her full-time, and I need someone to watch her sometimes when I’m NOT working, and other things come up.

This is all ultra-stressful. 

a new year, a trial date

I haven’t posted much because I usually write blog posts in my downtime at work, and I’ve been a primary nurse for a very intense, busy patient and her family since Christmas Day. I do have posts that I want to write, but the biggest news is this: We have a TPR trial date and it is in four weeks!

I knew in my heart, from the first phone call I received in from my foster care agency, that this placement would be different than my last. I knew within days that I would say “yes” to being an adoptive placement to Jo Jo. And I felt within weeks that she was my daughter and I was her mother. But never did I dare to dream that by the new year we’d be four weeks away from a TPR trial!

We are supposed to reflect on the past year on this day, and so I remember that on New Year’s Eve 2012/13 I watched the ball drop while babysitting my former foster son Moose. I was so sad, so empty, and so lost. In February I placed myself back on the list for a placement, and on April 15th, little tiny Jo Jo arrived and changed my world. I had a wonderful adventure in California with many of my closest family members and friends, and received the best Christmas gift when Jo Jo’s goal was changed to adoption. I was a busy single mom, but I took time to continue to grieve for the little girl who never got a chance at this life. I have reveled in motherhood, a second chance a gift to me. I stayed close to my best friends and my sister, and was lucky not to lose anyone close to me in 2013 to death. I didn’t have any problems at work and felt that I did my best and touched many families as a nurse. I reconnected with an old best friend and re-forged our special relationship.

I went from the lowest point of my life, losing my beloved and wanted daughter and becoming a baby loss mom, to being so happy and fulfilled in most every way. (See my post: Why We Don’t Say the Q Word.)

I’ve been very lucky. But all that being said, I have a lot of stress, too, at home. I have two grandparents next door who need more and more care. When our caregiver calls in, I’m screwed. I need someone there from 7am to 9pm, basically, and it’s impossible to get a “back-up” person, because everyone is looking for steady work, no one is just sitting around every day waiting for someone to call in. I’m in the process of interviewing someone for evening shifts and Saturdays. My mom watches Jo Jo for me when I work, and that’s HUGE, but that’s about all she can do. She also is unemployed, and uninsured, and having health issues.

Sometimes I feel that out of the five of us, I am the only one holding things together. If I didn’t have my mom to watch Jo Jo, it would be 10 times worse, but the bottom line is that I need more help for my grandparents. And I need to get something figured out for my mom, health-wise. I’ve spent many days this week just stressed to the max about it all.

Let’s get back to some good points, though. My New Year’s Eve was amazing, best I’ve ever had. I hope that’s just a sign of good things to come in 2014!

gah!

My house is a disaster, I have appointments and a wedding party to go to today… and trying to take over paying my grandma’s bills! This is a lot of work. Getting all the info, setting up the online accounts, faxing the DPOA info in to them. Setting up online accounts for the checking accounts she has and figuring out if there’s enough money to pay the bills is not a quick process, either! It’s not all going to happen in a day, that’s for sure.

One of our new caregivers has already started working for us. She came yesterday morning and helped with breakfast, dressing, showering, pet care, etc. Today she is coming to watch my grandpa while my mom takes grandma to the doctor.

Hopefully soon this will all just be part of the routine.

the middle of the sandwich

It is not just a baby that I take care of, it’s my two grandparents, as well. I don’t hands-on take care of them as much as I make sure someone else is always there to do it. My mom has been doing the errand and appointment running, as well as the meal fixing, but she and my grandma do NOT get along. Then it’s me who gets to hear all the complaining from both sides. Lately my grandpa, who has stage 5 Alzheimer’s, is beginning to wander, a characteristic of stage 6. Previously, we could leave him home alone for a few hours during the day, but now we can’t. He has also had three falls this month. Until now, my grandma could dress and feed herself in the morning, and now she can’t. She could pay her own bills and shower. Now she can’t.

I went to a meeting with the financial attorney and my grandma where we were able to formulate a plan for using funds for more in-home care. I have been looking for people to interview who can dress and shower (or in my grandpa’s case, provide cue-ing for ADLs), prepare and serve meals, and stay home with my grandpa when we aren’t there. I will soon be taking over the bill-paying, and this is going to be quite an endeavor as my grandma, losing what precious independence she has, micro-manages me as much as possible.

Sometimes I just don’t know how this happened. How did I go from being the kid in the family, to being responsible for so many people? I worry all the time about the Alzheimer’s that runs so strongly in our family. What happens if it’s my mom next? And then me? Who is going to hold it all together someday when I can’t do it anymore?

Boy, I better have a lot more kids, in the hopes that at least one of them takes care of me!