Month: February 2015

Do these jeans make my boobs look small?

Consider me $1000 richer, but, like, in memories because that check burned a hole in my pocket and then bought me a new pair of jeans.

I know I said that I would let you guys decide how I spent it, but I had to get cancer to win this money so I figured you wouldn’t hold it against me.  (Yeah, I pulled the cancer card again.  I also parked in the “cancer patient parking ” yesterday when I took Penny to the doctor because there were hardly any spots, Penny is so sick I had to carry her, and my hair is still short enough to look the part.  It’s really one of the only perks I get.)  I will, however, give you a short rundown.  It’s actually really easy to spent a grand.

There were the aforementioned jeans because I lost a pair.  Literally.  I don’t know where they went.  Josh is sure they’re at my boyfriend’s.  I’m sure I haven’t seen Taylor Hanson in over a year.  IDK.

Also, I bought a round of drinks for some girlfriends.  That’s mostly because I was showing them my budoir session photos, and I wanted to make sure (1) the photos appeared extra blurry. (2) they wouldn’t remember what they saw. (3) they would tell me the truth…that I’m super beautiful and, really, should be a mastectomy swimsuit model.  Also, because I love them, they make me laugh, they’re supportive and just really, really pretty.

With the rest, I paid some bills (or bill because, let’s be honest, I just couldn’t bring myself to be 100% responsible / boring with my cancer-earned money), and then I swept my husband off his feet or whatever.

The Monday after Valentine’s weekend (because it’s cheaper — you know, like how all the boxes of chocolate are 90% off now.  See, I was a little responsible.) Josh and I boarded a train to Chicago.  I really wanted to do something nice for Josh.  The weight of everything landed on him a month or two ago, and it has been hard to give him much of a break between me going back to work, our two girls, and my ongoing (but much improved) chemo fatigue.  So to show my true appreciation for him so steadfastly taking care of me and our littles, I whisked him away.  And then, promptly got sick on him again.

That’s just how I do.

Ugh.

Monday was a pretty glorious day.  You know, the “Yay!  We’re kidless!” kind.  You barely know what to do with yourselves, and you’ve kind of forgotten what the other person’s face looks like.  Over the poopy diapers, stacks of cancer bills, and sinks full of dishes, sometimes it’s hard to see.

“Oh hey, it’s you.  I forgot I kind of like you.  And look how handsome you are!”

After the train ride — which was waaaay more fun than driving, btw — we found ourselves at our hotel/spa with no real plans.  We filled our evening with food, bowling, drinks, dancing, singing, and a contest to see who could slide farther in their socks.  We made all kinds of plans for the next day and fell asleep.  So imagine my surprise when I woke up to relive the previous night’s dinner.

I know you’re thinking the same thing the hotel staff probably thought when we had to shamefully call them to pick up the bathroom trash can full of puke.  But no, I was not hungover.  I wondered this myself, but the truth is I only had two drinks (albeit, I’m not much of a drinker in the first place) and it lasted all day and into the next, when we went home.  It was definitely a bug.  And that bug kind of ruined Josh’s romantic getaway by, again, forcing him to be my caretaker.

He’s a pretty cute little nurse, though, and he said he still had fun.  He said that Monday night paid it forward for the whole trip, and if I had to get sick, at least it was when we had no children to care for, a king sized bed, and cable TV.

By the train ride home on Wednesday, I was feeling much better but hadn’t left the room since Monday (you know, for reasons other than the good kind of not leaving your hotel room for a day and a half).  It was there, on the train ride home, that Josh and I developed a new addiction: RUMMY.

Ha.  I know.  We are basically eighty years old (which is really kind of a goal of mine anyway) and super boring and surely there are cooler card games (Magic?  Uno?), but we have been having all sorts of “tournaments” and trash talking and scheming and sneaking in games while the kids are asleep or parked in front of a show or destroying the house or whatever.  The other night, Josh had a spray bottle full of water that he sprayed Alice with every time she tried to interrupt our game.  Before you call DCFS, let me tell you that she LOVED it.  She thought it was a hilarious game just for her, and really, how else are you supposed teach your children good game play habits?

So that’s that.  $1000 spent and a new card addiction gained.  What would you do with an extra “I had to go through hell for this” $1000?

Also, an updated hair pic for those of you on the edges of your seats.  jk.  But there have been requests…

Hair 5mos

Driving is hard and so is my mother-in-law.

The other day I was pulling into my driveway, and I hit the house.  I hit the house with our car.  Again.

What?  That’s never happened to you?

Don’t worry.  I’m okay, and the kids weren’t in the car to scream their bloody murder at my back.  I know that’s your concern right now, our safety.  You’re surely not wondering how one hits their house with their car.  Twice.  I don’t know what to tell you.  We’ve lived here for five and a half years. Turning into a parking space is hard.  It was just a little scrape.  GET OFF MY BACK!

After I, you know, hit the house, backed off the house, and then properly parked, I reached for the handle to commence my walk of shame, but Josh was already in the driveway — laughing at me.

Now I know some husbands wouldn’t be too keen on their wives peeling up a small portion of the corner siding of the house (twice), but Josh, well, Josh is accustomed to this sort of wifely behavior.  His mom is also known for her mad driving skills.  In fact, the first time I hit our house, Josh shook it off.  “My mom used to do that all the time,” he told me.  To this day, my mother-in-law’s chosen merging technique is to close her eyes and hope for the best.  No joke.

When I first met my future MIL, I was surprised by her candor — her frank nature.  So much so that, in the beginning, I was a even little intimidated by her because I was never sure what she’d say next, but it was probably going to be the truth, according to her.

Sometime in the first six months of our relationship, Josh’s parents went out of town for a couple of days, so naturally, we took up residence at their place that weekend.  When I next saw his mom about a week later at an in-home birthday party or somesuch, she entered the kitchen with MY BRA in her hand.

“I found this.  I figured it had to be yours.”

“Uh, yeah, thanks…” I muttered at the floor while shoving my bra into my coat pocket.

WHERE DID SHE FIND THAT?  Gah.  At 22, it was one of the more embarrassing moments of my life.  (By now, that would barely register.)  I mean, I had cleaned up my things before departing.  She could have only found it, like, on the ceiling fan or shoved under the mattress or in a kitchen cabinet or something.  And why didn’t she just give it to Josh or shove it in my purse?  Why were we having this “conversation?”

But that’s not how she rolls. Nope.  I was once a party to Josh’s sister trying on some hand-me-down jeans that ended up with my mother-in-law suggesting to her (beautiful and slim) daughter that she lose some weight.  We were all, “Oh, those look nice.  Yeah, maybe untuck the shirt.  Oh yeah, lookin’ good.”  And my mother-in-law was all, “[Daughter], those are just a little too tight, and I can really see your belly in those.  You’ve really been gaining some weight.  I think these would have fit you better a couple of years ago.  They don’t look very good on you.”

Whoa.

On the other hand, two weeks ago, she called me at 10pm in a half-panic, just to check on me and, more probably, Penny.

“Hello?” I answered.

“Heather?  Oh, good. You guys made it home.  I just saw on the news that there was a shooting at Chuck-E-Cheese’s, and I got so worried and my heart started beating really fast and everything.”

“Yeah!  I saw that too.  Isn’t that crazy?  We were at the other one, though, the one in Fairview Heights.”

“Well, good. I didn’t know which one you guys were going to, and I got so scared.  I just wanted to make sure you all were alright.”

“Oh yeah, we’re good.  Penny had fun.”

“Okay.  Well, I never want anything bad to happen to you guys, you know?  I’ll talk to you later.  I love you.”

“Love you too.  Good night.”

Yes, really — a shooting at Chuck E Cheese’s.  I don’t know if it was a skee ball game gone bad or the woman was driven mad by “the band,” but that happened, and we were, like, kind of, sort of, but not really at all, almost involved.

But that night, after getting off the phone with Nana, as we call her around here, I started thinking about how much our relationship has changed over the last eleven years, but in all that time, Nana hasn’t really changed.  I have.

Over the years, she has remained a constant in our lives, and when we had children, she really kicked it up a notch.  This woman is a career grandma, and that’s no exaggeration.  With eleven grandchildren (and two greats), she’s literally doing something with one or multiple kids almost every day.  My girls are the youngest, and she was disappointed that I wasn’t going to / now can’t have just one more kid.  She wanted an even dozen.  You know, because when bragging — grandma to grandma, kid for kid — an even dozen really packs a punch.

When Penny was born, Nancy seemed to stake a claim on her without my consent, (I’m her mother, afterall!  And at that sweet time, I had no idea what being a mother meant except I GET TO CALL THE SHOTS NOW!) and sometimes, it frustrated me.  Why are you planning her first birthday party?  I’m the mother here.  Why do you feel so free to just feed her whatever you want?  Ice cream isn’t good for her.  There was also lots of unsolicited advice and always, always wanting to know Penny’s “numbers” from her doctor’s visits.  I felt a little crowded sometimes.

Nana

But I was misunderstanding her.  I mean, it wasn’t the hardest thing in the world to do — to misunderstand her.  For instance, that Christmas, three months after having my first child, she bought me a scale.  Yes, a scale.  From my mother-in-law.  I kind of thought it was against the law, or at least highly, very heavily frowned upon to buy someone an unsolicited scale.  At any rate, I opened it and looked up to see my brother-in-law’s incredulous face.  We both kind of nodded and smiled.

Message received.

When I asked her about it recently, though, she said she bought that scale with Penny in mind.  I had once told her we didn’t have a scale (because I don’t like ’em! and, really, scales weren’t much of a thing in my house growing up), and she explained that she wanted us to have one so we could track Penny’s weight gain.  The babe was a preemie, and these things were of importance.

I had misunderstood.  I thought she was trying to keep my thigh gap game in check.  (I will never, ever, ever have a thigh gap though, scales be damned, and I’m at peace with that.)

What I now understand is that she is always acting out of love.  And she was viewing and still does view my children as her own.  And you know what, they ARE hers.  Just as my daughters’ babies WILL BE MINE.  And now that I get it, I AM GAME.  Take them. Plan their parties — that’s a lot of work, yo.  Do what you like.  Feed them whatever.  I don’t care.  Momma needs a minute, and I know you love them.  They are yours.  Can they spend the night?

There’s something really great in her taking on my babies.  Besides me (and possibly my husband, I’m not sure.), she loves my children more than anyone else in this world — and her loves extends to me, their mother, her son’s wife.

Throughout this whole cancer fiasco (and really, in life), she has been our number one.  Whatever we needed.  After my surgery, when I couldn’t hold my eight month old or have my three year old jump all over me, Nana kept the girls for an entire week.  And they love it over there!  I literally don’t know what we would have done without her babysitting and her love and support then, throughout chemo, and last night when I wanted to go to bingo.

My point is that I misunderstood her.  It’s easy to do with people.  This experience really shed light on a lot of my relationships, and I realized something about my mother-in-law.  She’s actually one of my besties.  And I’m as shocked as the next girl.  Aren’t you supposed to hate your mother-in-law?  Also, my 22 year old self wouldn’t believe this recent revelation.

But it’s true.  Case in point: we talk on the phone a lot.  Like, twice a week.  And I hate the phone.  She knows more about my daily life and what I’ve got going on in my week than anyone, including Josh (because she pays more attention).  Sometimes, it gets gossipy, which is fun and what girlfriends do, and at least once a week, we “hang out.” (Okay, I’m usually dropping my kids off or picking them up, but I stay a while to catch up.)  Total bffs, right?

I had a moment, at 21, when I realized this about my own mother.  We were sitting in the living room, watching TV, and I remember it hitting me.  “She’s the best friend I’ll ever have.  No one will ever have my back like she does or love me more.”

I’m not saying that Nancy has replaced my mother.  There is no replacing your mother.  (And I just have to say that my mom was hilariously cool.)  I’m just saying that she has done a damn fine job of loving me like one.  And she’s not about to let her own daughter walk around in jeans that don’t fit her.  OUT OF LOVE.  I promise.

My Imperfect Storm.

As much as I’d like to always just make you guys (and myself) laugh, I’ve got to be honest.  Over the last week, I’ve had mounting anxieties, and last night the fear in my heart erupted.  All over Josh.  In the form of my tears and snot.

You see, lately, I’ve been on the up and up, and, for the most part, I’ve been happy.  Happier than I’ve ever been, actually.  Mostly because I appreciate my life so much more now.  And I really know who I am.  Also, probably in part due to a hefty dose of denial.

But then three things happened, and I came crashing down.

  1.  Sam died.
  2.  I had a dream about an old classmate who passed a few years ago.
  3.  I started reading stories of women who are metastatic — like on purpose.

Let’s just start from the bottom up.

When I was first diagnosed, I wanted NO information.  I am aware of how stupid this sounds and really is, but I just couldn’t handle it.  All throughout treatment, I did the opposite of what most women do.  I avoided doing my research.  Oh, at times, I tried because I’ve always been a studious girl.  I read much of Dr. Susan Love’s breast cancer bible, but it only served to scare the living crap out of me.  The last straw for that book was when it “taught” me that women who found their cancer while breastfeeding had poorer outcomes (or you know, died more often).  Nope.  Just, no thanks.  I can’t do anything to change that so let’s just not even discuss it.  Please and thanks.  And back to the library you go, Dr. Love.

Part of the reason that I started this blog was because I couldn’t handle reading other people’s horrifying experiences with breast cancer.  I think a lot of people draw strength from identifying with others, but for me, it was like watching Friday the 13th before my very own stay at Camp Crystal Lake.

fallon

It is only now that I am trying to peek into the breast cancer world a little more.  I have been researching VERY slowly, and in doing this, I have stumbled across some blogs of women whose breast cancer came back and are now terminal.  And I can’t stop reading them.  They often take my breath away and always strike fear in my heart, but I regularly check on these women.  I feel like I owe it to them.  I feel like I can’t just shut them out because it scares me.  What if that’s me someday?  I’m not sure how much good it’s doing me now though.

Also, I had a dream about a former classmate (who I was friends with in middle school and early high school) who died a few years ago.  In the dream, he really just said hi and said he had to get back to work on the yearbook.  I was delighted to see him because I knew it had been a while.  But when I woke up, I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe Chris was trying to tell me something.  Give me a warning or welcome me over or something.  I also know that this is ridiculous.

But here’s where it’s not ridiculous.  On Monday night, I went to Sam‘s wake.  Seeing that sweet little boy like that knocked the happy denial right out of me.  You don’t get more real than that.  And seeing the grief of his parents reminded me that cancer just doesn’t care.  It really just doesn’t give an eff.  Like Miley Cyrus.  Or my daughter when it comes to wearing pants.  (Again, here’s the link to donate to Sam’s family.)

So for the past few days, all my pains = recurrence.  Because, obviously, pain + wild anxiety = my children growing up without a mother. Gah.  Does anyone have a chill pill?  Not Ativan.  I’m already taking that.  Like, a legit chill pill?

My mind is wild, frantic.  I’ve taken two steps forward, one step back.  And I wonder if that’s how the rest of my life will be.  Will I have to beat back this fear forevermore?  Will I always have moments of wide-eyed panic and silent alarm?  Will I have to learn to manage my ice cold gut every time I have a random ache?  Because, let me tell you, it’s a deep, dark rabbit hole, you guys.

I guess, as long as I’m taking two steps forward, one step back, I’ll eventually make it to a less fearful place.  And truly, in whatever state of mind I’m currently in, I am just so happy to be here.  To be alive and with my family.

But seriously, any advice from you “survivors” out there?  Or anyone else?  Bueller?