May 2011 – Getting Closer to a Home of Our Own

May 2011

Because I was 100% sure this was our house, I decided we should find a month-to-month rental, preferably in the neighborhood. We had moved and shuffled so many times already, I wanted to start getting settled, get the kids enrolled in preschool for the fall, meet new friends, etc. I finally found a very small house in the area that was vacant, and I was willing to move in today. It was a tight fit for 7 people, and most of our stuff stayed in storage, but it was fabulous because it was the next step to getting settled, and it was privacy, and it was our stuff, and I didn’t have to have a heart attack every time my 3 4-year-olds and my 3-year old went near grandma’s Steinway, or her glass cabinets full of breakables, or her white couches, or her brick hearths. So just like that, while my in-laws were in Europe, we moved out. I told them it was a Mother’s Day present. We started attending the ward in our new area, and no one believed we’d get that house with all of its complications, so they mostly nodded condescendingly and ignored us.

Because of the mid-year move I hadn’t found a preschool with 4 openings, so from January-May I did Joy School with someone nearby. I tried to gather a group of moms to do it, but once I did, they voted me off the island. I’d never even met them in person, but because I had four to participate, they said it wasn’t fair and we were too big of a group for one Joy School group. Hello group? I created you! That is very typical of the things I’ve encountered because of our situation, but it is what it is. I’m used to it. We can never carpool because my car is full, and no one has 4 extra car seats in their car, or do playdates at the park because corralling 4 little hurricanes while I kept up with a baby was no fun at all. No babysitting exchanges with other moms bc it was usually a 4-1 or 4-2 ratio, and no one is crazy enough to agree to that. Naturally I wouldn’t be allowed to be part of a Joy School group I created. So I found another mom and we were our own group. Her daughter had a lot of anxiety, and I suspect is on the autism spectrum. She was a sweet girl… and a handful. The little girl and I worked out a system, and once she trusted me to meet her needs, we did ok. All told, her one was as much work as my 4, so it was an even trade (the other mom thought so too). We were the island of misfit Joy Schoolers. The kids no one else wanted.

I ended up liking the mom a lot. She was my first friend since we had moved. But the truth is, I hated Joy School. I hated the prep. What little kid-free time I had, I didn’t want to spend coloring and cutting things out to make my lesson. I hated doing it. I was so stressed and overwhelmed at this point, that most things weren’t fun for me. I never had a break from the kids, and that was so hard. We lived in an area with mostly retired people, and babysitters were very hard to find, so I was on call 24/7. This was proof positive that, short of a zombie apocalypse, I won’t be homeschooling my kids. Ever.

The sudden move from Atlanta and all the stress associated with it is also when my health took a big turn for the worse, but not in any way I could pinpoint at the time. I suddenly developed insomnia, when sleeping used to be my super power. I used to fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I used to sleep for extraordinary lengths of time, anytime, anywhere, through anything. Suddenly I would lie awake for hours. And then I’d wake in the night and lie awake for more hours, and when sleep would finally come, it was time to get up. It was torture. The kids and I got sick a lot. I didn’t feel like myself. I was cranky. I felt terrible all the time, but the doctors would tell me, “Well, you’ve had 5 babies in 3 years, you’re not as young as you were, you’ve been through a big change, your body is adjusting, blah, blah, blah.” But I knew it was more than that. I just didn’t know what it was.

I have always been a night owl and have never been a morning person, but when we got married, Adam and I immediately made a habit of going to bed by 10:30. We had both graduated college and had real jobs we had to function at first thing in the morning, not late-morning classes we could doze off in. I recently found a great explanation for my sleep problem.

“What happens with an adrenal-related sleep-disorder is that you never have enough cortisol in the morning, which is what you need a large dose of to wake up. So mornings are very groggy. Because you can’t make enough cortisol for the rest of the day either, the grogginess continues throughout the morning and afternoon. And because you are low cortisol, all day, your pituitary puts out more and more ACTH, to nag your adrenals to get on the ball and make some freaking cortisol already. So all this nagging is going on all day, and your adrenals are trying, but can’t keep up with normal requirements. However, the cortisol requirements in the evening (after the kids are in bed) are much lower, so suddenly around 8 PM, your adrenals CAN respond to the ACTH, and they do so with a vengeance. Because the requirement is so low at that time, the adrenals can meet and even exceed the requirement. And suddenly, you are wide awake, because you have much more cortisol than you are supposed to have at that hour. At that hour cortisol levels should be low to prepare for sleep.

Normal fixing of this problem doesn’t work. You can make yourself go to bed at 9 or 10 PM, but you wake repeatedly, sometimes for an hour or more, throughout the night. Thus you can lie in bed for 8-10 hours, but are lucky to get 3-4 hours sleep. And suddenly, around 4 AM, you’re not just tired, but sleepy too.

Now you have one of two decisions to make. You can decide to stay up through the day in hopes you’ll be tired enough to sleep that night, or you can nap during the day (with 5 kids aged 4 and younger? Not a chance). If you stay up, you’re groggy and unable to focus, so can’t think much anyways, so the day is a loss. If you nap, you can recover and be WIDE AWAKE when your cortisol kicks in at night. But it doesn’t matter whether you nap or not, you may be able to be TIRED at a normal bedtime, but you won’t be SLEEPY. So you’ll be up all night anyway.”

I wish I had read that back then. So that was torture, on top of the never-ending-kid-a-palooza, no friends and no home. I felt horrible all the time. But at least we had somewhere to live.

Because we were transient, once we rented the house close-ish to our soon-to-be-new house, I also signed up for a community garden spot. And planned. And waited. And waited some more because the weather was so awful and so cold during the winter-that-never-ended that nothing could even be prepped, much less planted. It snowed on Memorial Day (uh, good thing I didn’t plant Mother’s Day weekend, like they say around here). The ski resorts got 10 inches that day! They skied through July 4. Because of all the snow, there were big concerns about flooding with a sudden run-off from the melt. No worries folks! It’s not gonna melt this year!

We spent the rest of May getting settled. And this is where the sparsity of pictures begins because my camera go washed and my computer died, and I lost 9 months of pictures. So sorry for the picture-less post.