Monday, November 27, 2006


As you can see, Thanksgiving at my parents' house was very filling this year.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Littlest Therapist

In the early days of this crisis, when Paul and I were confronting some ugly truths about our marriage and what it's become, I was nauseous all the time. I worked out constantly (I'm still working out a lot, but I no longer get panicky if I skip a day). I couldn't eat for a few days. I've been losing a little weight, something of an oddity in the third trimester, especially as this New Baby continues to grow at a rather precocious rate. One morning, after not having eaten for a couple of days, I suddenly found myself bent over the kitchen sink, vomiting and vomiting until not even green bile was left. Everytime Paul touched me or told me he loved me, I'd burst into tears.

Ellie was very perceptive about all of this. She has only recently turned three, and in a lot of ways - especially in her language skills - she's still younger than that, but she's always been very tuned in to the moods of those around her. Even if Paul and I were sitting in the same room or walking on the same path, talking, she'd try to form a bridge between us, holding both his hand and mine, often trying to force us closer together.

My precious daughter is still always excited to see me when I arrive to pick her up from school, but in those first days - very unusually - she didn't want to leave with me. "No," she'd say, after greeting me with a hug and grin. "More!" she'd say to the teacher who was reading books or singing songs with her. When I suggested that we could read and sing together at home, she'd sit down on the floor and cry. Home was where things were not right. At school, at anywhere else, things were still normal. She seemed completely unconcerned when we spent several days leaving her with friends, often for extended periods, while we talked and cried or visited with our new therapist.

Even now, when things are - not better, but at least not as shocking, and regaining a veneer of normalcy - Ellie is still working on trying to physically hold her parents' marriage together.

At dinner time (and breakfast time, and anytime we sit down together at the table) she suggests that we "Pray!" holding out her hands expectantly, waiting for Paul and me to each take one of her hands and then each others'. We do this several times each meal.

Ellie remains a wonderful sleeper, flowing through the bedtime routine and going to sleep without complaint in the evenings, then sleeping through the night. When she wakes too early, she often will play alone in her room until close to 6:30, an acceptable time to come find Mama and Daddy.

Yesterday was a better day for me, though Friday and Saturday were bad days. But this morning, Ellie awoke at 4:45 and came into our room in the dark. "Up!" she said, then snuggled in between us on the bed and went back to sleep. In her sleep, she reached out her hands and placed one on Paul's face, one on my own.

Thank you all for the kind comments and emails. I appreciate them - and the thoughts and prayers that come with them - very much.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Broken, Not Shattered

This morning, thanks to wonderful friends keeping her up late for us last night, Ellie slept in a little. She didn't come into our room until nearly 6:30, the latest since the time change. She climbed up into our bed (with assistance) and pulled up my satiny pajama shirt, exposing my big, round belly. I showed her where the baby's head (or butt) was pushing out right then, and she leaned over and gave my tummy/the baby a flerbert! I didn't know she knew how to do that. She she did it over and over, laughing and laughing.

Paul and I are going through a very rough patch. It's not OK. It's not going to be OK. But things are starting to look a bit brighter today, and we are both working really really hard. We're also seeing a therapist.

The problems stemmed from a lot of things, but I think that important among them was the fact that we've been underestimating how stressful it really is for us to raise a child with special needs. We tend to focus so much on her successes and abilities, and that's great for parents to do, but we also need to focus on ourselves, acknowledging when things are hard.

We also are strained by not having family nearby to help shoulder the burdens. We have so many dear friends who offer to help us out, to watch Ellie sometimes. We almost never take them up on that, and we need to do better. We need to go out together, alone. We need to send Ellie out and spend time at home together, alone.

What's broken needs a lot of fixing. Understanding some of the underlying stresses doesn't make things right. But having this sort of acute crisis is refocusing us, getting me out of my head-down-and-push-through mentality, getting Paul out of his 18-hour-workdays mentality, and forcing us to reprioritize. Right now, working on us comes before everything else.

Blogging openly about a marriage's struggles is just not done much, especially in a mama blog like this one, where Paul and I know so many of the people who read it. But I don't think that silence helps anything; I don't think that hiding the fact that we're struggling helps anything. Honesty and transparency are how we're trying to put the pieces back together. I'm not going to write here about every step of the process, but I think it's important to acknowledge openly that even people like us, people with a marriage we always thought was unshakably solid, can have real problems that require real work to fix.

Fortunately, Paul and I are both the sort of people who like homework.