Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I am Free

For the past 4 years and 3 months I have worked for a large animal hospital and rescue group in my city. I truly, strongly believe in the mission of this organization. I also love the other veterinarians I work with. It's not everyday that you can get 16 professionals together and have the environment truly be one of teamwork and mutual learning.

The past year has been especially hard. Tim has heard me bellyache nightly that I wouldn't survive another day. Dozens upon dozens of oysters and many bottles of wine have been the sole witnesses to the things you say only among friends who really get it because they're living it too. There have been many aspects of this job that left me feeling frustrated, disrespected and resentful. The time to leave came and went long ago but a rough economy made it difficult for practices to expand and there weren't many jobs to pick from. I had to stay put in order for my family to survive and for us to eventually move on to better things.

Survive another year I did. Finally, my last day is here.

Preparation for my departure has been ongoing this week. Tim and I hauled boxes filled with textbooks and notes to the car Sunday night. Conference proceedings and precious emails are loaded onto a zip drive. I've erased my computer. Also erased were nearly 8,000 emails - I don't think I ever permanently deleted one since my first day. I've been slowly telling clients that I'm leaving and recommending other doctors I think they would be a good match with. My keys, swipe badges, parking's all turned in and my exit interview is complete. Everything is done - neatly buttoned up just the way I like it.

Saying goodbye is awkward. It makes me uncomfortable in general. Other people too I think because I've gotten cards and found letters left clandestinely on my desk. Though we've spent countless hours together over the past years I know deep down that I'll never see some of these people again. They know it too. I hugged a lot of people today. Other people and I silently agreed to pretend it was just another day.

It hasn't fully hit me yet but I know it will soon: I don't have a job outside of my home anymore.
I am free.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ten on 10: Old camera, new perspective

We have an old Canon PowerShot A40 that Ada has been playing with on and off since well over a year ago now. We don't use it anymore because we have something much fancier. The other night Tim said, "Why don't we put new batteries in it and see what she does?" "Yeah, OK." I said and went to get batteries. Wouldn't you know we were out of AA batteries - easily rectified with a trip to Target on Thursday morning. We got home and I sat down with Ada to show her how to actually use the camera.


Then I let her have at it. She took pictures all day long, which is much better than I did. I spent the day cooking and cleaning for dinner guests. At the end of the day I realized I'd barely picked up my camera but she had been at it all day. So I'll help her participate in this months Ten on 10. I want to make it clear that this is not a mockery - you all know how much I love this photo project. Rather, when I sat down and scrolled through her pictures I was loved learning about her perspective of the world around her (looking out the window through a screen, how tall her dad is) and what she found interesting enough to take a picture of - mostly our cats, her parents and her toys.

All photos by Ada Caroline Shepherd, almost 3 years old











ten on ten button

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Born Again

"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." -Rajneesh

I love this. And I believe this: there are entire parts of yourself that are simply inaccessible until you have a child regardless of how that child came to you. Certainly, I've been through all manner of challenges and opportunities to grow but Ada's arrival is the single-most transformative thing that has ever occurred in my life. 

We are now expecting our second child - the one we prayed for, hoped for, worked for and didn't feel our family would be complete without. Not once did I think that I would not, could not love this boy as much as I love my daughter. No. It seemed to me that nothing else was possible but for the love in our family to grow exponentially. I spend hours imagining Tim teaching him how to play basketball and Ada being nurturing and protective like she is. His arrival is greatly anticipated.


I find myself wondering: is the mother is born anew with each additional child?

I loved being pregnant the first time around. I couldn't wait to do it all over again! I know, some people can't understand this and I get it. It's not for everyone and experiences can vary so widely. But I, for one, loved it. I loved feeling her move, loved that she was always with me, loved reading and connecting with what was happening as she developed and loved that my very capable, strong body changed to accommodate and nurture her. The physiology and biophysics of the state of pregnancy just blows my mind! I spent hours researching and planning for her every possible need. Magical! 

So far, the second experience of pregnancy has been a bit different than I expected. Not in the way that "every pregnancy is different" because physically it's really been a lot the same. The only real difference is that I'm more tired this time around. The biggest difference is that unlike the first time around, pregnancy isn't the single most important thing happening in my life. There is so much going on. Ada demands attention and I want to give it to her. My job (only 1 week left) is sucking me dry. We're about to move across the country - that is a very big, very looming detail. 

At 28 weeks with Ada. And Puppet, the very helpful cat.
At 29 weeks with Widget. Same shirt, same pants, same location as last time. 
I thought the belly was much bigger but I think it's the same. 
I am carrying so much higher this time though. 

At first I mistook this lack of involvement with a lack of enthusiasm. 

That's not quite accurate though. I'm excited about this baby! While I thought I might really hang on to this, my last pregnancy, with great sentimentality it turns out that I'm not. Not at all. Rather, I'd prefer this time around to just get to the part where I have the baby. In a way, it's a relief. I expected to be very melancholy about the fact that I'd never be pregnant again but it doesn't look like I really have to worry about that.

Because of all the distraction I haven't taken a single picture of the belly until last night - I'm quite aware of how I look when I'm pregnant! I'm not spending all of my awake time planning a nursery or browsing name books or researching laundry soap. On the one hand, this is pretty cool. Feeling comfortable and confident when raising kids is great. On the other hand, having less that I need to actually "do" at this point leaves me feeling less than actively engaged and thus less connected. That really bums me out. 

The lime green jammies belong to Ada, not that she'll wear jammies these days. The dark blue one is one that will probably fit Ada's little brother when he's born. He's so little. It's hard to really conceptualize that Ada was that little. 

Last week I blogged about a major change in our plan to move to New York. Remarkably, the amount of relief I felt after making this decision is astronomical. The weight has been literally lifted off my shoulders. My natural response to that relief was to pull out his onesies and footie sleepers, take a quick inventory of what we have and what we need, refold and organize them all and then put them away again. I got online and started looking for a car seat, our one necessary purchase. Then I massaged my belly with oil, a routine that was nightly with Ada but intermittent during this pregnancy. The last act was me laying down in the bed and watching him dance around inside me. 

"Just you and me little buddy!" I thought as I drifted off to sleep in our quiet house - the one we will continue to inhabit for 3 more months. It was reassuring to take a moment to connect with the little boy inside of me. I wanted to let him know that we are so excited for his arrival. And that even if my life isn't revolving around being pregnant this time that doesn't mean that I'm not thinking of him. At some level in my mind I am constantly thinking about him. That is one part of pregnancy I still really enjoy. 

Friday, May 4, 2012


A few months ago I made a little announcement about us moving to New York. Not too long after that I made a little announcement about the wee Widget we'll welcome to the family in July. As soon as I saw the positive pregnancy test and looked at a calendar I knew this pregnancy would go. The timing really couldn't have been more terrible: my EDD was separated from Tim's start date at his new job by a mere 48 hours.

Since then we've been participating in the mental gymnastics of how to make this all work. Of course, we'll get from Point A to Point B it's all a matter of how to make that happen just as smoothly as possible. I've been psyching myself up just like I used to way back in my grad school days when the only choice was to just keep going. I remember clearly many instances where I would look in the mirror and instruct myself, "You have to keep going. You can do it all." Tenacity is probably one my greatest assets.

Big Sur, CA just north of Nepenthe restaurant. I will miss how sensationally beautiful and raw this part of the west coast is. 

So, I found myself there again: dealing with it, pretending I was doing OK. But I wasn't. Thursday afternoon while Ada was taking the shortest nap known to mankind I was trying to figure out our insurance situation. As it happens the one month of our adult lives when we don't have insurance lined up is the one month we definitely will need it. Our COBRA options left us with a daunting choice:

  1. Stay in San Francisco until the baby is born. Our insurance coverage is amazingly awesome, we know the doctors, the facility and how to get there and we have a support network. The trade off? I have to stay here after the baby is born until late August when we can fly to meet Tim, who starts his job on August 1 in New York. He might be here for the birth but will miss the first precious weeks of his sons life. 
  2. The three of us engage in a disjointed move to New York, keeping the family together for the most part. Our insurance option in this case is downright terrible. It would cost us at least $10,000 to have this baby and that's assuming that everything goes well: the birth is uncomplicated, baby and I are both healthy. We would be in a strange place with strangers all around us and a facility we know nothing about. That's if I could find an Ob to take me at 37 weeks pregnant.

I sat at our dining room table on Thursday, poised to throw my phone across the room in frustration. The computer screen started to blur and all of my breath left my lungs. Once the sobs started I couldn't stop them. Not even after Ada woke up and not even when I knew our landlord and dear friend was on her way over. There wasn't a way to deny what was happening. No matter how I tried to find an option that wouldn't rape us financially or separate our family I just couldn't. Resourceful, pragmatic, analytical me just couldn't make this equation work out.

A tree in our neighborhood. Today the flower petals were drifting downward to make a soft pink carpet on the sidewalk. 

Tim got home and we talked about Adas visit with the dentist and my visit with my Ob. I walked into Target to return something and actually walked out without buying anything - a first. I had meant to save the rest of the days events for Friday night after his workweek was over but he was open to hearing the rest so I spilled. All of my insurance math and rationale tumbled out in an endless stream of verbal vomit. As soon as I stopped talking Tim looked up and said, "In a way, this makes so much more sense." One thing I love about this man is that he possesses the rare yet enviable trait of not always needing to be adversarial and contrary - he doesn't need to argue just for the sake of saying a devils advocate had been part of the conversation.

Myakka River State Park, FL. Captured moment between a couple on the tour boat. I loved the simplicity of their affection for one another.

And that's that: we're staying in San Francisco until after the baby is born.

I let my held breath out and immediately the rightness of our decision settled comfortably in my gut. The last time I felt this right about a decision was when I used all of my vacation days up so that Tim could study on Sundays and pass his oral board exams. As soon as the decision was made I knew it was the right thing to do. Last night was the first night of this whole pregnancy that I slept through the whole night. I woke up in the morning to light seeping in through the curtains in Adas room and I thought, "Oh my God. I slept until morning."

Again, we're engaged in some mental gymnastics but it's all coming together comparatively seamlessly. Another sign that we're on the right track. We might have even found a way to avoid the crippling financial consequences that we have spent months bracing ourselves for. Hallelujah! It's starting to look like things are going to work out just fine. That's good because I was really starting to wonder...


Speaking of gymnastics, guess who started tumbling class today? Really, they all just run around in a giant padded space bouncing and jumping and falling safely. Now that our summer is open again I signed her back up for music class, soccer, swimming... Oh, I'm taking this SAHM thing seriously (two more weeks).
I also started looking for a good source for a car seat for Widget and did a quick onesie inventory. I'll pour my heart out about that later.



Terrible picture, I know. I really thought for a minute that the trapeze might happen. Nope. Maybe next week.