Alice

It’s been suggested to me that I tell MY story to start. I know I posted the cliffs notes version of my life in my first post, but I was talking with a girlfriend who is, in my opinion, quite exceptional at looking at things from a different point of view. When I asked her thoughts she said, “but you haven’t explained who YOU are to any readers. Who are you to them? How do they relate to you? Why do they want to keep reading? I know you can tell a story, Alice, but to keep the interest they need to be invested in YOU.” And she’s right (she’s actually always right). How would I possibly expect you to have any interest in anything I have to say if you don’t even know me? So here I go. 

I’m Alice. Named after my Great Grandmother before it was cool, and in a generation where nearly all my classmates were either an Ashley, Brittany, Jessica, Jennifer, or a Stephanie. I’m 28. I have 2 kidlets with my husband of almost 7 years. 

I grew up as a middle child and only daughter. I have 3 brothers, one older, two younger (twins). We were all born in NYC, but as I’m sure you can imagine, apartment living gets pretty small when you cram 6 people into a 2-bedroom. So, like many in the early 90’s, off to the suburbs we went. It was your typical childhood, both of my parents worked outside the home, so they commuted daily. I have a ton of super happy memories of playing with my brothers and our neighbors down the street, terrorizing our au pairs, and just being a kid in general. 

I was a very active athlete. I tried anything and everything under the sun. The one that stuck though, was swimming. I was good. There were definitely people who were better than me, but I was a contender. I am a hard worker. And persistent. And competitive. Almost to a fault. So I trained and trained. But I don’t think I ever LOVED it. I liked winning. For instance, when I was in college, I got clobbered by one of my team mates in warm up before a meet one day. I mean clobbered. I was swimming one direction, he was swimming the other and our hands collided. This guy was like 6’6″ (no exaggeration) and probably at least 270 lbs. So imagine that wing span and the force that would’ve been behind it when it collided with my little 5’6″ 130lb. hand. It  legitimately shattered. I ended up having 5 pins put in it. I still can’t close my hand completely. It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d gone to the hospital then and there, but my coach needed me to swim the meet and win my events. So I did. 

See? Competitive. Can’t help it. Even when my own health is at stake. 

My life as a wife, caregiver, and mom is no different. I love fiercely. My family is my whole world, and every single thing I do is for them. As much as I wish I could stay home with them, that’s just not possible at this juncture, so I’m a working mom, and I work hard for them every single day. My job is demanding and I struggle with the whole work life balance thing. This has been sort of stress relief, kind of just getting it out and somewhere where I can see it. If I can see it, it’s not just floating around my head gathering the usual ammunition of choice sarcastic comments that accompany many of my human interactions. This and Instagram are my “things”. It’s my way of trying to document that whole, “the days are long and the years short” thing that really seems to be the motherhood mantra. So here’s where I’m going to do my best to work out my guilt in giving A chocolate chip mini muffins for breakfast instead of avocado toast, or not doing baby led weaning with R because truthfully I’m absolutely terrified of her choking, or blowing off date night with C AGAIN in favor of us both falling asleep on the couch in front of The Big Bang Theory. But I’m also going to share my wins. Like the day R finally crawls. Or A’s first day of kindergarten coming up in the fall. Or when we can finally get C a socket that actually fits his leg. I do all that, with a combination of sarcasm and happy tears. 

My heart is with you, Manchester. 

There isn’t anything that can change the way that anyone effected is feeling right now. I know it, probably better than most, I know it. I also know that there is nothing I could possibly write that could console at this point. It hurts. 

I find this particularly heartbreaking because I understand first hand the panic that is being felt in Manchester at this moment, and that felt by anyone who is still awaiting information about a friend or loved one. My thoughts are with you today. Truly. 

Nurses, poop, and Special K, oh my!

It’s only been four and half years since C stepped on his IED. Only, right? Four years, seven months, and nineteen days since he landed one foot in the grave. One thousand six hundred ninety two days since we all did a lifestyle 180. And, boy, do I have stories. 

The first couple of weeks in the hospital were rough. Like, really rough. I had a newborn and on top of trying to tend to the needs of my baby I was trying to tend the needs of an essentially invalid, and drug addled husband. C’s schedule was completely backwards. He slept all day, couldn’t sleep at night. He was in constant pain. He has a morphine allergy so instead he was given ketamine to manage his pain. Yep, you read that right. They were giving my husband doses of Special K for pain management. Which, of course made his heart hate and blood pressure go sky high and made him hallucinate and just generally loopy as all hell. I remember one night in particular, about a week after he arrived in Bethesda, C had one nurse who was making it her personal mission to make him have a bowel movement. Now, keep in mind, he’s a medic so he has more knowledge of what’s happening to him and more general medical knowledge than most of their patients. He’s also having multiple cleanings and revision surgeries every day and going under anesthesia that often so not only did he not want to eat, but he couldn’t because there was usually less than 12 hours until his next surgery. There was legitimately nothing in his system to come out. He lost 40 lbs since being admitted for Pete’s sake. But even being told all this, this crazy nurse was absolutely hell-bent on making C poop. She even went so far as to threaten him with an enema. (I would never have let that happen btw.)

So C, in his Ketamine induced mental state, made it HIS personal mission to make her regret it. 

“Alice, I need you to do something for me.”

“Anything, C. What do you need?” 

“I need you to find a CVS. Or a drug store. Anywhere. F*ck, even a Walmart. I don’t care.”

“Okay. What am I getting there, C?”

“Get me a box of X-lax. And a bottle of milk of magnesia. And some stool softeners.”

“If you have to go I’m sure I can get something from the nurses station.”

“NO! Do not tell her I’m getting that stuff. She’s going to regret this so hard. I’m going to sh*t all over this bed. And she’s going to have to clean it up.”

“C. She’s gone after tonight and I’ve already requested that your room be removed from her rotation. Let’s just wai–”

“I don’t care, Alice! I’m going to sh*t all over this bed. And the next time we change the baby’s diaper I’ll smear that all over the bed. And you should sh*t on the bed, too! We’ll all crap all over this room and she can come clean it off the bed, the walls, everywhere but the bed pan or the toilet! I’m going to sh*t the freaking skittles rainbow all over the walls!”

Again, Ketamine is no joke. This is a real conversation I had to have with my husband. At this point I tried to change the subject because his blood pressure was already elevated because of the ketamine and I didn’t want him to have an aneurysm. 

He eventually talked his brother into going out and getting those laxatives for him. And he took them, and when he finally did poop, it was days after this nurses shift (and after he ate food more substantial than applesauce) and I helped him get to the bathroom so he could go on the toilet. It was an experience that solidified that nursing is NOT, in fact, my calling and I thought more about the people who do that as their profession, not just for their families. I feel like so many nurses have such a selfless heart, to help people so in need, and not only that but to bond with them. I have a special appreciation for the people who do feel that call to be a nurse. That help people and families who were in situations like ours where you spend days or weeks or months in the hospital. It is not for the faint of heart. We had so many that were so wonderful, caring, looked after not only C, but me too. Checked in on me, the baby, went to get us food, or just hold a baby if I needed 5 minutes to myself. I even had one nurse who offered to take a load of laundry home to do because it was just one of those days where A pooped through outfit after outfit and spit up on me more times than I can count. She was a true angel. They were all truly beautiful people and the saddest part is that I think I can remember only two of their first names. I wish I could find some of them. The ones who helped us the very beginning, when my brain was totally fried and I could only deal with the problem in front of me. The ones who worked behind the scenes to make sure the room stayed dark enough for the baby to stay asleep in the pack and play on the corner while they grabbed C’s vitals in the middle of the night. Or held his hand for me when he went in to surgery because I couldn’t bring the baby in. Or brought me his wedding ring after he’d been wheeled back with a tear soaked face to tell me, “he didn’t want to take it off, he said he needed it. So I had to wait until he was out.” Those are the ones who guided me through the most difficult phase of my life to date. Those are the ones who were my therapists before I had the wherewithal to actually go to a therapist. Those are the ones who held me and reaffirmed my faith in humanity. Thank you for your profession, your kindness, your help when I needed it the absolute most. Thank you.  

#carseatconversations

Anybody else have a kid that just tells stories? A is notorious for this. I’ve actually started typing them down on my Facebook as soon as I can park my car so as to remember the hilarity. For example:

“Angus, Daddy’s not here so we’re having leftovers for dinner tonight.”

“What’s leftovers, Mama?”

“The food we had for dinner last night, again.”

*in a disgusted tone* “…oh…”

Or…

“I want to be a firefighter, and an astronaut, and a police when I get big, Mama.”

“That’s an awful lot of jobs, big man.”

“I can handle it.”

And I’m sure it’s funnier when he’s saying them, but the kid goes to pre school all day and I feel like I miss it. I spent the whole first 18 month of his life as his everything. He’s the funniest little dude, he has an amazing heart, and I love his randomness. A lot of that is just being four (and a half!) years old, but a big part of it is just A being A. And I just want to remember everything. 

A small thought on Mother’s Day. 

I love being a mother. I truly do. It’s the best thing that I never knew I wanted to do. And the recognition on Mothers Day is fabulous. This year there were two bouquets of flowers, a clean house, and C cooked *most of* dinner tonight. For. The. Win. Celebrating a day for moms everywhere is lovely. 

But when the day is over, and the baby STILL wakes up at all hours of the night, and your husband (who was just SuperDad mere hours ago) simply grunts, farts, and rolls over leaving you to groggily make your way to the nursery to tend the babe, it can be, well, frustrating. 

Don’t let yourself go there, Mom. Because even though it seems like today is just the one day where your family makes the cards, and the breakfast in bed, and finally acts appreciative for five minutes, you ARE appreciated. I promise. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve written this next part, but it seems fitting. And if it helps even one mom who might be feeling disappointed with Mother’s Day nearing its end, then that’s enough for me:

I see you, sitting in the corner chewing your hair. I see you, hiding in the pantry in an effort to shovel something in your mouth (probably a cookie or chocolate of some kind) without having to share with your child just for once. I see you, quietly curse your husband as you get up to tend the baby for the third, fourth, fifth time tonight and he just farts and rolls over. I see you, Mom. And I feel you. Our jobs are HARD. And we all have our bad days. But don’t lose sight of the good, no, the great parts about what we do, too. Because I also see you when your baby reaches up and holds your cheek while you’re feeding him. And I see you when she reaches for mama when she’s scared, or fallen, or anything other than her blissfully happy little self. And I also see you smile as you rock that baby just a little bit longer before putting them down to sleep. I see you, Mom. And I feel you. You’re doing good. 

Happy Mother’s Day. 

He’s got jokes…

After the tear jerker I laid on you last night, I’ll try and lighten the mood a little. C, a.k.a. Legless, is funny. Your typical funny-guy.  It’s one of the things that I found attractive about him initially (he’s also very pretty but what can I say? I was 18). That being said, since his injury, his humor can sometimes border on offensive. I don’t know if it’s a military thing, or if it’s because of the TBI or what, but there are definitely times where I’ve had to give his real leg a good, swift kick under the table. 

Tonight was one such night. 

Now let me preface this story by saying that in the nearly 5 years since his injury, we have a system when neither of us wants to cook. And it usually goes something like this: 

“C, I don’t want cook. You do it.” 

“No way, I did it last night.”

“Yeah, but I worked all day.”

“Yeah, but I don’t have a leg.”

Touché. Sometimes there’s a bit more back and forth but usually by this point in the conversation we both know we’re going to order from the pizza/sandwich place in the next town over. And the unspoken agreement is that he will call in the order and stay home with the kids so as not to have to put his leg or pants back on and I’ll drive to pick it up. 

Tonight was an order out night. Per our usual routine, I get in the car and start driving while C orders from the house. I get to the shop, walk up to the counter and say, “hello, my husband just placed an order for pick up. It’s probably under Alice.” Girl looks at the order sheet, “sorry, nothing for Alice. Was it maybe under a different name?” I give her C’s name. Nope. I give our last name. Nope. Huh. Weird. I text C. “What is the name the foods under?” He texts back: “Jesus Christ.” 

Of course it is. 

I sheepishly turn back to the counter where the girl is standing, waiting to help me. Of course by this time a small line has formed and I have to give the girl the name the food is under. “Um, Jesus Christ?” I practically whisper. The girl smirks and turns around to get our food leaving me red cheeked and cursing C under my breath. WHY?

Smirky returns with the food, I paid and booked it out of there.  The drive home is short, and once I moved past the thought that the kids and I would probably be just fine with his life insurance payouts I thought more about C. He’s changed since Afghanistan, absolutely. Sometimes it drives me up a wall, but usually it’s for the better. We’ve been forced to grown up together, from some crazy 22 year old kids who just wanted to make a marriage work, to the nearly 29 year old adults/partners/parents who are making a family work. We’ve grown together and learned a lot about each other. And he’s got his embarrassing quirks, but so do I. Honestly, I was over it before I even pulled into the driveway. Because I realized that we’re a team. And we’ve got our own twisted humor to help us through. 

Well, hello there.

Well, hello there. I see you’ve wandered your way into the completely disorganized, sarcastic ramblings that my husband convinced me to “share with” (read: unleash upon) the internet (instead of him).

So, in an effort to take the enormous burden of listening to my rather ridiculous thoughts off of my husband, C, I’ll start. Welcome, I think. I’m Alice. Like about a million and a half other bloggers, I’m a late-twenties mom. I’ve created two small clones of myself (I guess C helped). My first born is a four and a half year old crazy-pants boy, A, and then there’s my delightfully clingy, seven month old little princess, R.

At this point the thought my have crossed your mind, “why is this called Legless and Me? Get to the point, lady!” I’ll tell you why. I am extremely lucky to have the family that I do. Or at least extremely lucky that we are all here. C and I met and dated through most of college. When we graduated in May 2010, we stayed together and C took the summer to make a huge decision for himself and life direction. In September 2010 he enlisted in the US Army as a Combat Medic. He shipped on off to Fort Benning, GA for basic and we very quickly realized that if we wanted our relationship to work and be able to live the type of lives we wanted to, we would need to get married. We got married December 2010, and by doing so effectively sped up our “5 year plan” to a “right the F now plan”. We spent our first year of marriage living in Georgia. Looking back now, that first year was very similar to college, except there were paychecks and the very real threat of deployment. Which inevitably happened. Right around our first anniversary, we found out C would be deploying to Afghanistan within the next few months. And about four weeks later, we found out about A.

I was a miserable wreck to say the least. I was 23, pregnant, and scared. The idea of going through pregnancy, my first pregnancy, without my husband was hard enough. Pregnancy through a deployment was terrifying. I know I’m not the first woman to do it, and I definitely won’t be the last. But I will tell you this: It. Is. HARD.

But I did it. I had a baby. All on my own. Well, mostly. My mom was there, I know she was because I have photographic evidence, but I honest to goodness can’t remember her being there (sorry, Mom). I did my hospital stint, there were Skype calls to C and pictures and everything else. About two weeks into this motherhood gig, I was regaining some confidence. C was scheduled to come back in about 6 weeks, I’d started getting the hang of breastfeeding, I’d picked out a new apartment and put down the deposit, A was actually sleeping at night, I was really just doing awesome at life.

And then I got the call. The call that completely shattered my world and caused uncontrollable tears for the next 48 hours. C had stepped on an IED. Just in case you’ve been ignoring the news since 2001, and IED is an Improvised Explosive Device, designed to maim. I remember going into panic mode. I’m a planner, and a mild control freak. Everything I thought I had a handle on? Out the window. Done. Gone. I had a two and a half week old baby and a husband who’d just had his left leg literally blown off of his body. How do I get to him? He’s in Germany? F! My passport is still in my maiden name and I need to fix it. I have to figure out how to get a passport for a two week old. How do you even do that? What about the apartment? What about the car? Most of my thoughts were of every possible anxiety inducing thing and they came flooding into my head like water out of a busted dam scattered with fears and concerns for C, our life, and family. Once again, I was a wreck.

The next week was a blur. C got transferred to Walter Reed, the passports became moot, and I decided the apartment, car, and other bills and stressors could just wait while I made my way to Washington to introduce my husband to our son. And once we were there, together, everything kind of just started falling back into place. We had help, a LOT of help, but we figured it out. And we still are. We’ll get there.

I think I’ve probably dropped enough feels on you for one night. Plus, there’s that whole thing where R wakes up screaming bloody murder at 3am because she spat her paci, so I think my bed is calling me. If you found this interesting or entertaining, perhaps I’ll see you here the next time the mood strikes. But for now, goodnight, all.