Archive for August, 2009
I know that we’re all completely bored to tears with hearing about my little “life change” and no, I’m not talking about menopause although I will be soon enough. In fact, I’m shocked that my periods haven’t slowed down already. You’d think my reproductive system would’ve fired off a memo to my uterus the second the twins popped out:
“Dear Senor Uterus” I don’t know why but for some reason I imagine that my uterus is male and Latin. “First off, thank you so much for the hard work you’ve done here. All and all, we couldn’t be more pleased with what you’ve managed to accomplish in such a short amount of time. Sure, your most recent placenta underperformed but, other than that, you’ve had a solid career. Unfortunately, we will no longer be requiring your services. Please consider this your one-month’s notice and prepare to vacate the premises. Adios. Sincerely, The Dept. of Reproduction.”
I don’t want this blog to ever read like a journal but I do get asked a lot of questions about my non-drinking status and so I feel like I want to update you, yet a lot of not drinking is sort of an internal process. God, that sounded like something scripted off of Bachelorette. Next thing you know I’ll be saying “journey” without a hint of irony. No wonder my husband thinks 12-step meetings are a cult.
Here’s what I’m finding out so far in case any of you are doing this with me: feelings suck. And I’m feeling them all. It’s like a motherfucking roller coaster of emotions over here. It turns out that all this time, especially growing up, I’ve had all these feelings that I thought were “too much” so I tamped them down with whatever worked at the time. Since the twins came it’s been wine, but really all along it’s been something – anything to avoid being fully one hundred percent present. Strip away my ticket to tune out and what you’ve got left is a raw nerve.
I feel exposed.
Lately, I’ve been hit with fits of emotion that come unexpectedly and furiously. One minute I’m sitting in my car singing along with Kenny Loggins (shut up) and the next thing you know I’m crying helplessly for what seems like no reason at all. But there is a reason. I’m catching up on a lot of unpleasant emotion. Back when the girls were in the NICU, I didn’t spend all day at the hospital the way I saw some other parents doing. Here I had these little tiny babies – one (Sadie) of whom was only two pounds and no bigger than a Guinna pig, the other needed help to breathe and I couldn’t make it better. Every day when I hit the ward and scrubbed in, I felt more and more disconnected and less and less like I was making a difference to them. Oftentimes when I showed up, I wasn’t allowed hold Sadie because she was too fragile -and needless to say -or is it? – neither one of them could do the breastfeeding thing too well. So I went in the back room and tried to pump or sat by their Isolette and watched them for awhile and told myself that it was okay to leave after only an hour, that Elby needed me at home and needed me stable. Sometimes I was able to give kangaroo care which is where you hold your baby against your bare chest and for moments the feeling would be so intense it was unbearable and sometimes I would imagine just gluing a baby to my body and taking off but I knew I couldn’t even walk outside my curtained area, let alone care for a two-pound baby.
What I remember feeling the most during that time is Anxiety coupled with guilt that my babies were doing so well compared to some of the other babies and envy that still other babies were on their way out the door after only a day or two spent under the bilirubin lights. Other than that, I felt numb and I preferred it that way. Only a masochist wants to feel what I imagine I should have been feeling – like a big crap sundae landed on my head.
So now it’s payback time. Now I get to feel afraid, pissed off, out of control and all of the things I was through all of Sadie’s trials and tribulations -and really back a lot longer. I get worried that if I feel a certain way one day, I will always feel this way. And it will get worse and worse until I’ve completely lost my mind and am forced to spend my days in a locked ward playing poker with schizophrenics. But I’ve got to man up and deal with it because there’s no going back to the old way.
And yet, through it there are moments of peace. Real peace.
If any of you are on this path with me, I hope it helps you to hear me say the things I say because I know it helps me to say them. And your comments (well, most of you – not you Lynn Earley) have been a lifeline. So thank you.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on August 28, 2009 3:40 pm
Shockingly, this post has nothing to do with drinking, not drinking, drunkeness, vicodin or Kristy McNichol -not that I’ve blogged much in the past about Kristy but I’ve always meant to because, she’s cool and she was on the Facts of Life.
Okay, my husband just pointed out that Nancy McKeon was on FOL but I don’t know what difference it makes in the scheme of things. Like why pick a fight about that right now? Fine, Jon, you’re right. Is that what you want to hear? Do you feel like more of a man now because you know that Nancy McKeon was on FOL? Maybe we just shouldn’t be together. I mean, seriously, maybe what we need is a trial separation. Oh I’M overreacting?
Listen, I didn’t mean to drag you into my marital discord and don’t worry about me because I just signed up for Match.com.
So, this post is about another one of my favorite obsessions: Sadie and our war on her appetite. Despite our best efforts to get Sadie interested in eating, here is a short list of things Sadie would prefer doing (edited from what could be a much longer list) biting Matilda, licking my computer mouse, shrieking “all done,” staring at a penny, throwing expensive Melissa and Doug puzzle pieces in the toilet and watching any movie starring Richard Gere.
But all of a sudden, it seems we’ve hit Lorenzo’s Oil in the shape of a drug called Periactin. This is an antihistine which has been around for like a hundred and sixty years (I’m pretty sure cave men took it when their allergies were acting up) and has the side effect of causing WEIGHT GAIN.
Why haven’t we tried this before? Well, our GI told us no. She’s a wonderful GI, don’t get me wrong. If she sucked you’d have read all about it. In fact, she recently had twins and yet finds the time to diagnose a little reflux in her spare time. But she doesn’t like putting kids on appetite stimulating drugs. Now my nutritionist, on the other hand, has been gently asking why we don’t try it and last week I suddenly got desperate enough to go over my GI’s head and ask my pediatrician for a prescription. A week ago, I got the drug, gave it to Sadie and then next day my head exploded. She ate like we’ve never seen her eat before. She gobbled, she munched, she scarfed, she wanted more. I spontaneously entered her in a hotdog eating contest and she took second place in the 21-month-old division. Note to self: train her harder next time. No break for diaper changes.
After five days we had to give her two days off and today was day two so she’s back on tomorrow. The only downside to all this is that this drug has a history of suddenly losing it’s efficacy and no one seems to know when that might happen. Could be a week, could be month but in the meantime, let’s drink to her possible weight gain. And by drink I mean Diet Orange Crush because I have been sober for 95 days. You knew I’d throw that in right?
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on August 25, 2009 6:07 pm
Dear Mr. Hasselhoff,
Actually, may I call you David? I’m assuming I can because you seem super down to earth and not held up on formalities –in fact, since we’re being casual, maybe I could just call you Hoff –since that’s what I call you to my friends. Okay, so it’s settled, Hoff it is!
Here’s the thing, Hoff, I wanted to touch base with you because it’s recently come to my attention that I have a problem with alcohol and due to a certain Youtube video featuring you sans shirt eating a burger on the bathroom floor, I know you have struggled with the hooch in the past as well. I was thinking we could possibly hang out and “not drink” together; Scrabble? Badminton? Poker? Any of these activities pique your interest? I just think that we could have a good time and possibly be a positive influence in each other’s lives.
I know to the casual observer it might not seem like we have much in common beside our crazy love of booze but I prefer to think of our similarities rather than our differences. For instance; you’re huge in Germany, I’m… pretty well known at my Encino Trader Joe’s –let’s just say I’m on a first name basis with the lady who mans the sampling station! Oh, there’s more; you starred in Baywatch for many years and I once rollerbladed right past the spot where you were filming the show! Seriously, right past. Okay, I don’t know for a fact if you were filming the show at that exact time because there weren’t any “production vehicles” or “cameras” per se, but I did see a lifeguard stand and someone in a red bathing suit who looked a lot like Pam (Anderson) (well the blonde part) –you know what – whatever – I’m not on trial here. Let’s move past that.
According to Wikipedia, where I get all my important information, you once did a movie called Legacy which also starred a Filipina actress named Chin Chin Guitierrez. Um, just so happens that I eat in a restaurant right here in Los Angeles called Chin Chin all the time. Although it’s not Filipino food, it’s Chinese, but they make the most fabulous chicken salad and steamed dumplings. If you order the dumplings, ask for the garlic soy dipping sauce though because otherwise they’ll just bring you regular soy sauce which is not nearly as tasty. I bet you already know that because I think you might live in LA –just another thing we have in common! This is getting downright crazy! We’re absolutely meant to be sober buddies.
Oh, you know how you used to drive that talking black Trans Am in your show Knight Rider? Well, guess who else drove a black car? Yes sirree bob. I drove a black Volvo S-60 for a number of years until I had twins and was forced kicking and screaming into a silver Honda Odyssey. My husband still gets to drive the Volvo though, which I’ll admit causes some resentment. I mean, why should the sweet ride (a practically new 2001 with only 62,000 miles on it) be considered “his” car now? Are the kids “my” kids? No. This is probably something that deserves further investigation at another time. Maybe when we get together you can give me your thoughts.
So, I know you have a lot going on as do I, Hoff. But, I feel we need to put our sobriety first and if that means leaving some things on the back burner so we can get together and talk then that’s what we need to do. What’s happening with America’s Got Talent? Are you still hosting that? If so, maybe I can come down to the “set” and we can kibbitz. Also, I have a cousin who is a wonderful balloon animal artist and if it wouldn’t be a bother, maybe you could get him through the first “civilian” rounds of auditions and straight to the show? Take my word for it that this guy is good! I’ve seen him make a snake that would knock your socks off! Just give me a time and I’ll be there wearing my “Don’t Hassle the Hoff” t-shirt as long as you promise not to wear leather pants.
Stay off the sauce,
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on August 18, 2009 8:06 pm
Figured since my gorgeous pal Becky
from Mommy Wants Vodka was kind enough to talk about my book today on her blog, I’d share a chapter with you – a sampling, if you will. And now I’m off to buy Carnation Instant Breakfast to see if Sadie has any interest.
This is a little long so get yourself a Starbucks and settle in. Thanks for reading!
Have I mentioned lately how much I love my bloggy community?
HITTING THE BEE
I broke my therapy cherry at the tender age of seventeen. My first therapist’s name was Irma and she was maybe sixty? I wasn’t an excellent judge of age at this point despite the fact that Botox was years away –but besides the wrinkles I had a few hints; the woman was wearing bifocals and the most useless clothing item ever invented -a shawl – so that was a good tip off that she was probably eligible for the senior citizen discount. I worried that a woman in her sixties wouldn’t be able to relate much to a teenager’s problems but I tried to keep an open mind.
I was having “food issues” as well as “I hate my stepfather issues” not to mention that I could not go on more than two dates with a guy without feeling suffocated and things were not going well at home. I was a simmering stew of teen angst, anxiety and anger. My mother, who was a mental health professional felt strongly that counseling could cure everything from multiple personalities to third degree burns. Maybe I should have known better than to consider her advice as gospel, considering my less than functional upbringing, but, hindsight is 20/20 and given the time I’ve spent in therapy, hindsight would have saved me enough cash over the years to be driving a Bentley Continental home to my own Neverland Ranch -but minus the llama. So my mother made the decision that I needed help –in fact, she made it a condition of my staying at home that I go talk to someone about why I couldn’t get along with my stepfather.
Besides being about five generations away from me and reminding me not so slightly of a cafeteria lunch lady, Irma’s bifocals magnified her eyes to such a cartoonish size that when she looked at me quizzically over the near sighted top half, it made me think of one of those creepy big eyed kid lithographs. It was disconcerting, to say the least. But the real deal breaker was that Irma was more than pleasantly plump and, unlike me, didn’t seem to be agonizing over it in the least. She’d long ago given in to the allure of polyester pants suits and who could blame her? The woman was probably not packing up after a long day of doling out compassionate nods and hitting the nightclub circuit, she was more likely going home to rearrange her Hummel figurines and knit a tea cozy. How was I possibly going to tell her that eating two cookies made me feel like I may as well get in the car and drive through every fast food joint within a five mile radius because fuck it I’ll always have a huge ass and no self control! without having to add, “Not that there’s anything wrong with it!”
My appointments were every Saturday morning and they usually followed a Friday night keg party which brought with it a mean hangover so most sessions I spent running back and forth to the bathroom or begging for Tylenol. Luckily, most of the time I saw her was during flu season so she didn’t think too much of it. But I didn’t start getting along with my stepfather any better either.
Once I turned eighteen I left the house and set out on my own thinking I’d feel relief starting fresh. But instead of feeling a whole lot better like I expected, my anxieties intensified and with them my incessant ice cream eating and I could barely tolerate dating at all. It seemed maybe I should give therapy another go. Seeing as I had no health insurance and my options were limited, I found myself a therapist straight out of grad school who agreed to see me on a sliding scale –like at the bottom of the scale. I don’t know if it was Ginger’s newness to the field or just a personality disorder, but, she was so friendly and eager she could’ve moonlighted as a Cocker Spaniel. I found myself spilling my guts to her right away –telling her all about my highly dysfunctional upbringing sparing no ugly details. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered she was way too huggy. Any sad story I shared caused her to pop up from her chair like a Jack in the Box and race around the coffee table that held her herbal tea and a tissue box to wrap me up in what she must’ve thought was a “safe feeling” hug. It was utterly horrifying and did nothing to help with my fear of intimacy let alone my food issues.
In order to distract myself from her aggressive boundary crossing I would flip through my mental rolodex of Ben & Jerry ice cream flavors and concentrate on which one I would be buying the second my session wrapped up. I forced myself to see Huggybear for another few weeks even though the more she teared up hearing about my past, the more shutdown I became until I realized I was deliberately keeping things light because I didn’t want to make Huggybear sad. I hated to admit defeat but it was time to move on before I pushed Ginger to the edge.
I went through a quick succession of metal health “experts”: one who made elaborate designs out of straws while eyeing a candy dish that sat on a table next to my couch as if the candy were in therapy and not me. Every so often she’d stand up without warning, reach across the table, make a grab for a piece of candy, sit back down, battle furiously with the wrapper until finally setting it free, she popped it into her mouth all the while saying, “Go on, go on. I’m listening.” It probably shouldn’t have come as a complete shock to me when she had to cancel a session because she’d somehow managed to scratch her cornea with a potato chip.
An honorable mention for weirdness has to go to Cowl Neck Sweater Queen who for some unknown reason, in every session wore an enormous cowl neck sweater. I diagnosed her with either OCD, terrible fashion sense or constant unsightly hickeys. Finally, I had a one-session-stand with a woman who listened to me intently for about then minutes, and then without saying a word, walked to her closet and came out with a stuffed bumble bee and a whiffle ball bat. It wasn’t clear whether these were items she just had lying around the house or if it was a kit she’d specifically picked up at Anger Issues R Us but I didn’t like where she seemed to be heading.
“I want you to take this bat and hit the bee with it.”
“No. That’s not really my thing. I thought maybe we could just…you know, talk.”
“Stefanie. You have anger issues. The bee is here to help release your rage in a safe way.” I was definitely having rage at that point; rage that she had the nerve to charge my insurance $125 dollars an hour for this. “Come on, pick up the bat and smack that bee!”
“Maybe I could just talk with the bee rationally?”
“Hit it!” And with that, she gave me a demonstration and whacked that bee so hard, so many times, I wondered if it would take out a restraining order. “Your turn!” I barely made out her saying to me as I was letting myself out into the lobby.
For a while it seemed that maybe I could survive on self help books alone. I bought them up by the shelf-ful and tried to heal myself from my bouts of anxiety and depression. I read Feeling Good: the New Mood Therapy, Women Who Love Too Much, Struggle for Intimacy and Women Who Don’t Love Football But Are Unfortunate Enough to Love Men Who Love Women Who Love Football so They Have to Pretend. Some of the books did bring up some good points but $12.95 rarely bought the real change I was looking for –which eventually left me back with my old friend therapy. Sitting on a couch and talking about myself for an fifty minutes still sounded great in theory and I didn’t want to let a handful of bad experiences cause me to shelve the whole project but it seemed so far my luck with therapists was not good. I did have friends in therapy and, sure, I could have asked a few of them for referrals but a lot of my friends in therapy at the time seemed just as crazy as when they started.
My last head shrinker was named Thelma, another recent grad from a school that judging from her blatant disregard for professionalism was probably an online university. I smelled trouble from our very first session. She launched into a story about a case she was working on –tearing up along the way. I made a feeble attempt to comfort her while glancing at my watch seeing my session ticking away.
Usually in a therapist’s office, there’s a clock positioned conveniently behind the client’s head so the therapist can feel free to clock watch while trying to seem that they’re making eye contact, sort of like a newscaster reading a teleprompter. This way even if you’ve just worked up the courage to talk about the pivotal moment when your trusted high school drama coach asked if you’d care to witness his private performance of Puppetry of the Penis, when the clock hits the fifty minute mark, the therapist will say, “I’m sorry. We’re out of time today. How’s next Tuesday at four?”
I knew this wouldn’t be a problem with Thelma. She had a worse sense of time than a rock. An hour and a half crawled by before we both finally ran out of issues and I got to leave.
In my second session with Thelma, after the first twenty minutes discussing her problems, we finally got around to talking about me and she made a diagnosis: Turned out, according to her, I was hilarious and the only trouble was that I needed to find the right guy. And she just happened to know one right at the hospital where she worked.
“He’s in his forties, just got divorced and he has two kids. He’s a super nice guy.” No matter that he was twice my age, had kids, and, oh yeah, was her colleague. There are only like a hundred shades of wrong about that but maybe she was having Internet issues the day that class was taught.
“I don’t think I’m ready for kids yet” I said.
“Well, we can work on that.”
Thelma was obviously crazy as a crab cake but it was clear she needed me at this point more than I needed her. Maybe to prove to myself that I didn’t have commitment issues, I still stuck around for a couple more sessions.
On Valentine’s Day, I broke down in the middle of my session –possibly from the dismal feeling of being in therapy on Valentine’s Day, and not ringing in the holiday by pouring chocolate fondue over some lover’s private parts before soaking in the oversized Jacuzzi in our five star hotel room in Paris. In the midst of my crying jag I noticed a shadowy figure crouching outside the French doors of Thelma’s office. It was easy to see since the doors were only covered with a flimsy non-soundproofed set of gauzy white curtains.
“Someone’s lurking outside your office!” I said, trying to stop a possible murderer or worse eavesdropper. Thelma went to the door, opened it and then crouched down to retrieve something.
“Oh my goodness! What a sweetie pie!” she said walking back in with a huge bouquet of roses. “It was my husband. He dropped by and left me these flowers for Valentine’s Day. Anyhoo, you were saying how hard it is to find love and how sad Valentine’s Day makes you feel…”
“Yeah. Hmm.” Placing her massive display of flowers on her desk, Thelma began straightening and arranging them. “You know, my husband and I don’t actually live together. I really think that’s the secret to making a marriage work. Separate apartments. Are you surprised?” I couldn’t have been less surprised considering I found her difficult to be around for ten minutes. What did surprise me, however, was that I was now pulling out my checkbook to pay her! Except that while I was writing out the check, I had a realization –a breakthrough if you will. It occurred to me that in a long series of fifty-minute increments I had found out plenty about myself. I was simply not nearly as dysfunctional as I thought. I mean, just compared to Thelma I was way ahead of the game. I felt such relief at this realization that tears welled up in my eyes.
Suddenly, Thelma pulled out one long stem red rose and handed it to me. “Here, Stefanie. I really want you to have this. You deserve it.”
“Thanks Thelma. But I’m afraid our time’s up” I said as gently as I could. I hoped she could find herself a good therapist. I knew how hard it was.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on August 13, 2009 8:04 pm
I had this great idea last week. Well, all right, I can’t take all the credit for it, Sadie sort of thought of it first. One night she was particularly tough to get to bed. She cried more than a 19 pound baby should even have the energy for and then once she calmed down and fell asleep, she slept so lightly even the sound of me eating dry Special K (admittedly not the quietest food ever) would start her sobbing again.You’d think the biggest roadblock Jon and are were facing that night was when we’d be able to watch Kathy Griffin: The D List in peace but no. We had to attach her feeding tube for her overnight caloric intake. We were so scared to wake her ass up that we just skipped it that night.
The next day, Sadie sucked down some four oz of Pediasure -the breakfast of champions and a bite or two of sausage. Lunch went even better – she may have had a small serving of pasta and a bite or two of prunes. But dinner was stellar: Trader Joe’s organic spaghetti-o’s and a half a piece of cheese. Oh and a whole bunch of fruits and veggies – hahahaha.
That night we decided not to tube feed her overnight again because she’d sucked down too much Pediasure right before bed (I’ve never used the phrase “sucked down” when referring to Sadie drinking so you know it was serious). The next day she ate even better. We were on to something big. I felt it. There was a direct correlation between not feeding her overnight and her having the appetite of a normal human creature that knows it needs to eat to sustain its existance.
We went for night number three. I felt it in my kishkes that this was going to work. I gave it a week for Sadie to break 20 pounds from the 19 she’d been hovering around for too fucking long. Twenty pounds was going to be happening. I could taste twenty pounds. Mothers just know these things. Sorry to be condescending but it’s true. We have a special sense. We should get paid big psychic dollars for our direct connection to a higher consciousness with God when it comes to our child. In fact, I was ready to hang out a shingle on the front lawn to make a few extra bucks on my talent. Or set up a hotline. Look, I didn’t have all the details worked out but I felt confident, okay?
Day four was possibly the best eating day Sadie had ever had. She guzzled formula like I used to guzzle pinot grigio, tried new foods, ate old favorites and sobbed when the veggie sticks ran out. I, and my great idea, was on fire. It was just a matter of time until Cedars Sinai renamed their pediatric GI wing after me. Surgeons would be dashing from room to room in the peds unit ripping out g-tubes and passing out pamphlets I’d written on the subject of feeding tube over-use and “mother-intuition based alternatives”
Night five we obviously skipped tube feeding again.
Day six I had a sobering thought: Should I call my nutritionist and give her the heads up on our little experiment? Hopefully she’d come by and weigh Sadie so we could feel great about our break-thru. I emailed her in an over explainy email and she wrote back right away saying “Why didn’t I think of that? A mom’s intuition is equally important to medical opinion” or something to that effect. She was all for it! Told you naysayers! Blow me! She agreed to come by on Saturday (which marked one week) to stick her on the bear shaped baby scale. Bear shaped scales? I know. I guess this is to trick the babies into thinking they are frolicking with fun forest animals and not just getting their weight in kilograms marked down on a growth chart.
Night six: no tube! God it was freeing! Better than crack (not that I’d know anything about crack *read my book*)!
Day seven: My little lady drank like a champ, ate a slight breakfast (she’s never been a breakfast person but who is?), a decent lunch, a nice nap and then…weight time. 18.14 oz.
Kicked in the Kishkes. Hard.
But hey, I have another idea: bolus feeds during the day to make up for….oh fuck it. We’re back to the overnight tube. At least until we can turn her damn car seat around to look forward.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on August 11, 2009 5:14 am