Ultrasounds and Baby bumps: Facing Fears

Ultrasounds and Baby bumps: Facing Fears

The wifey is laying on a hospital bed, almost completely flat on her back. She doesn’t quite know where to focus her eyes, so she settles to just look directly up at the ceiling. She’s quite. Well quieter than usual. That means she’s nervous, we both are. Jess is about to go through her second scheduled ultrasound. The nervousness stems from just not knowing what to expect. The first ultrasound went on without a hitch, well for the most part. Our unborn child was coming along nicely. No signs of abnormalities. And the heartbeat sounded nice, strong and hurried. The only hangup was that the baby had it’s legs crossed; so we were unable to find out what was the baby’s gender. We were very much hoping that this would be answered the second time around. Yet we were both feeling a little anxious.

I can’t say for sure if Jess had the same types of thoughts creeping through her head, but I know that I couldn’t help but wonder what if the ultrasound comes across something bad that was missed the first time. Not that I was really expecting any surprises. Just my mind likes to gravitate to the worse case scenario all the time. I don’t know if it’s a bad habit or just a defense mechanism. Either way it does a good job putting me on edge. As I sat quietly on the chair in the corner watching the technician apply the ultrasound gel on my wife’s exposed navel, an endless conga-line of really crappy what if’s paraded inside my head.

The ultrasound technician, a cheery, 20 something year old, with a dot like birthmark that was smack dab on the tip of her nose, asked us if we were interested in learning the baby’s sex once she came across it. Jessie smiled and said yes with enough enthusiasm to hide her nervousness. I could feel my heart changing gears as the anticipation grew. A few weeks earlier the wifey’s OB/GYN had asked us if we preferred having either a boy or a girl. Jessie gave the customary “doesn’t really matter, as long as the baby is healthy with ten fingers and ten toes.” The doc looked over at me clearly expecting me to say something along the same lines or that I wanted a boy. Instead I told her “I think I want a girl”. The doc was clearly surprised by my answer because she turned her head slightly, almost like a curious puppy would. The crease of her mouth gave the hint of a smile as she asked me why I felt this way. I suspect that after years of serving a predominantly Latino community, the doc had just grown accustomed to the idea of her patients male partners being more inclined of wanting a boy as their first child, guarantying the continuation of their family name. Personally I never really put much weight in those old world notions. I told her that in my opinion “it was probably easier to raise a girl to be a lady than it was to raise a boy to be a man.” I went a little further and explained how the men in my family have, for the most part had been knuckleheads and screw-ups, and that I just felt that if I had a bit more parenting experience under my belt that I might have a better chance at succeeding at raising my boy properly. The doc, an older Indian lady, with a last name that I have a hard time pronouncing, nodded her head slightly in agreement. She went on to tell us about her first born. A boy that turned out to be a handful. His father a proud doctor from India had told her that since they had a boy it was his duty as a father to be the one to guide him. That it was a mans job after all.She regretted not asserting herself more, because as the years went on their boy gave them a lot of headaches growing up, and that it wasn’t until her son hit his thirties that he finally came into his own. She didn’t come out and say it, but she basically hinted at the fact that her husband just didn’t know what the hell he was doing. I could relate. She went on to say that if she had a choice, she would have had the girl first. She strongly felt that it would have somehow made a difference. The doc’s experience only served to strengthen my desire to have a girl.

About 10 minutes into our second ultrasound session the technician smiles and says, with the slightest hint of what I thought was an eastern European accent, “Well it looks like you are having a boy!” I can’t quite recall what exactly Jess said. I think it was something along the lines of “Really?” with a big Kool-Aid smile flashing across her face. I felt my heart race. I smiled too and I think I said something like “WOW”. We were both very much surprised.

For weeks now I had been predicting we were going to have a girl, almost from the moment I learned about the conception. I was thoroughly convinced of it.I thought that maybe some of my great grandmother’s Santeria inspired soothsaying abilities had rubbed off on me.  Add to that all the comments I heard Jessie’s friends and family members make, claiming that we were going to have a girl because the shape of her belly correlated with some long held wives tale that was deemed as good as true.  I even dreamt with a little girl a couple of times. She had dark, black, curly, hair like her mother. Black eyes like her father. And her mother’s smile. I was not one to dream about kids, so I just took this as another sign. I believe Jess when she said she didn’t care about the baby’s sex, but I think that she had started to root for a xx chromosome carrier because she had started to realize that it meant something to me. She just never had a clear handle why that was, and neither did I.

Sitting on that chair, watching the images of my unborn son morph across the ultrasound screen I came to understand why I had been wanting a girl so badly over the course of those last few months. I had been scared. I had been scared of continuing the cycle, or the family legacy if I may call it that. The declarations of war by our fathers to the heartbreak and lament of their sons. I guess I had fooled myself into thinking that if I had a girl first I would have a bit more leeway to make parenting mistakes. I was stupid enough to believe that girls basically raised themselves and all I had to do was just be there to show some guidance. I know I was full of shit for thinking that way. I see that now. There will be nothing easy about being a parent. I wont be able to coast my way through this like I have on so many other things. I am going to have to teach my son what it is to be a good man, while I try to figure out how to be one myself.

I am beyond happy that I am going to have a little boy. I hope I can inspire a sense of wonder in him. Furthermore I will try to teach him that nobody truly has all the answers in life, which is why its important that he seeks those out on his own and not just take everything that people say for face value. If my unborn son ever comes across this blog, I want him to understand that the grumpy old man that he calls dad, was once a young confused guy that traveled a long way just to try to find out who he was. I pray that 20 years from now, when my son is 19 years old and I’m 55, we can talk to each other like I never could with my father, or my father with his.  And if the day ever comes, when my son tells me “Dad, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do?” I can look the kid in the eye, give him a big hug, and tell him that there was a time when I didn’t either, but if you just try to do what is right, life will throw hints your way and give you a chance to figure it out.

A Funny Thing Happened While I Waited for Santa: Getting Diagnosed for ADHD

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow’s it going folks. Fancy seeing you all here again. For those that actually missed my regular posting on LATB, all one of you that is (Love you Mom), please accept my apology for my absence. It was the holidays and all, and work being as fun as it always is, I thought it was a good time to take a bit a break from the blog. Besides with all the stress that the holidays bring with it, anything that I would have posted would have been just a jumbled series of rants about how unfair life is, and how Christmas was now nothing more than an exercise in consumer excess and yada-yada-yada. Honestly, who in their right mind would want to sit through all that? Like the old adage goes, “If you got nothing nice to say, then perhaps it best you say nothing at all.” So that’s exactly what I chose to do. But that didn’t mean that I just sat in a corner somewhere and just went with the flow. That’s never been much of my style. No, instead I took that extra free time that I gave myself to finally seek help with a monster that kept getting the better of me no matter how hard I fought.

Since I started this blog I have been putting some serious thought about my suspected ADHD. I was 90% sure that I had it. My old doc suspected as much. But I had been hesitant to get it officially diagnosed. I had my reasons for this. Some were financial.  Plus getting a diagnosis wasn’t exactly high on my priorities list. But I think the biggest reason was that I was a little afraid that maybe I didn’t have it. I know you’re probably scratching your head a bit by that one. Please allow me to explain.

It’s no big secret that I have always considered myself a bit of a screw-up. I’ve taken the easy route more times than not. I have lacked confidence and never managed to develop the discipline required to persevere in those precarious instances when the road got too bumpy. I never could grasp and take-in any subject matter that did not capture my imagination or moved me, no matter how hard I tried. When something did finally garner my interest, I would become obsessed with learning all of its ins-and-out at the detriment of everything else around me. I have started dozens of hobbie over the years and spent a good amount of money on them, only to abandoned each and every one of my new obsessions after a couple of months once the novelty of it all wore off. I am argumentative, and can go from perfectly calm and friendly to hulkish rageaholic in a blink of an eye. I am guilty of opening my mouth and blurting things that I usually come to regret; which is really an extension of my lack of impulse control and my need to experience instant gratification. All of that, combined with a few less glaring, yet significant human frailties, have combined like robot lions to make me one Voltron sized underachiever.

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Being a chronic underachiever, over-time, destroyed my confidence. I felt stupid, angry, and lashed out to folks who did not deserve that kind of treatment from me because it is just easier to blame others for my own personal shortcomings. There was a whole lot of self loathing going on inside me. There still is to some extent. I would consistently beat myself up for always coming up short. I felt worthless, and deep down inside, I thought I always would be. Then I discovered ADHD. For the first time in two decades my life made sense. I had the sudden revelation that perhaps I wasn’t some pathetic loser that wasn’t good enough to archive anything worthwhile, but that basically I maybe had been trying to participate in a rock climbing contest while not realizing that my hands had been handcuffed behind my back. Now I’m not saying that if you have ADHD that your are destined to fail. But I am saying that if you’re not aware that you have the disorder, then you don’t have the amount of self awareness required to manage all the symptoms that come with it. And it also keeps you from seeking medical help when you don’t have the tools required to deal with it in a constructive and well thought out manner.

But as I had mentioned, I hesitated to get an official diagnosis. A part of me worried “What if I don’t have it?” What would that say about me? Would it mean I was nothing more than an apathetic slacker? The worlds most self aware village idiot? What if the only reason I didn’t accomplish many of the things I had sought after was because in the end I just simply didn’t care enough to push myself to work for it. Then there was my fear of the drugs used to treat the disorder. I read up enough info on them to grow a healthy amount of respect and fear of them. Coming from a family that has a long history of dealing with addiction, the idea of taking a controlled substance like most stimulants , was something I was hesitant to do. Then there where the horror stories I read up on about individuals who were scatter-brain like myself, but who had a perfectly healthy outlook on life, but once on the meds they where transformed over time into emotionless automatons. And then there were the cases of those unlucky few who were at one time high on life, but after being on medication decided to take a long walk off a very short peer.

But despite all my hesitations, I became resolute over the holidays to find out once and for all whether or not I had ADHD.  It wasn’t an easy decision for me. But it was one that I felt I had to make. Because if I did have it, then I could seek help in treating it. I came to understand all too well that I could no longer deal with this alone. No matter how many books I read on the subject, or how much I tried to treat my possible case of ADHD with simple lifestyles changes, the fact was that my brain just lacked the necessary tools to implement any positive changes for the long term. I would need help if I was ever going to learn how to cope with ADHD. So I made an appointment. After getting some blood work to eliminate any other potential causes for my troubles, and taking an assessment, my suspicions were finally confirmed.

Thankfully after explaining to the my doc the reservations I had on using stimulants, like Ritalin and Aderall, for treatment, my doctor thought that it would be prudent to put me on a drug called Strattera. It is the only non-stimulant approved for the treatment of ADHD. I’ve been on the medication for two weeks now. It is much too early to tell if Stattera will aid me in my struggles. So far I have seen some improvements in some areas. Productivity at work has doubled. Feel more calm and relaxed. The inner monologue isn’t chatting away 24/7, and I’m less impulsive. The downside so far is that there are a few uncomfortable side-effects that I could most definitely do without. Feeling lethargic, dry mouth, nausea, just to name a few.

I understand that the meds are not a long term solution for what will probably be a lifelong problem. Only lifestyle changes, like exercising, both my mind and body, practicing mindfulness, and following a proper diet will truly help me gain a measure of control over ADHD. But I hope the medication will grant me just enough momentum to implement and follow-through with the necessary changes. After all the medication will not grant me a mastery over what things I choose to focus on. They only grant me a slight increase in will power to focus on what matters. The rest is ultimately up to me.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day: My Failed Attempt at NaNoWriMo

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day: My Failed Attempt at NaNoWriMo

insecurewriterssupportgroup

It is Wednesday, December 4th. Which means that it is the “Insecure Writers Support Group” Day. And boy I could use the support.

If you are, like me, a struggling writer, or just someone looking to discover some great talent out there, go check out this great blog that I found called The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. It’s a great little community of writers that have come together to express some of the joys and struggles of writing. I hope you get a chance to check the site out. It will be well worth your time.

Soooooo National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo as everyone else seems to call it was a complete and utter failure for me. I didn’t even come close to writing the amount of words that I had hoped for at the beginning of the month. Which to be honest really bums me out because I felt like I was up to the challenge back at the end of October.

I was confident I had everything in place to start my novel. I had the frame work to a good story. 5 friends come together to make sense and come to terms with the events that tore them apart almost 15 years earlier. It was a story about breakdowns and what could have beens. It was an angry story. But it also had a sense of hope.

I had a good idea of who the characters are. What were the things that motivated them. I knew their likes and dislikes. I knew their backgrounds, and what their childhood was like. I knew everything from their favorite color, to the kind of dreams they were likely each to have at night. They were 5 real, breathing, three dimensional characters. Distinct in every way, and bound forever by their shared experiences.

Everything was set. All I had to do was sit down and write the story. But in the end, I just couldn’t bring myself to do so. Every Time I made an attempt, something would come up, or I would make something up; just so I wouldn’t have to sit down and write it. I would be lying if I didn’t say I didn’t hate myself a bit for it. It’s just that sometimes I just can’t get myself going. No matter how hard I try. My brain just doesn’t cooperate. Writing for my blog is one thing. That comes easy. Because it doesn’t feel like work. But sitting down to write a novel is different. That feels like a job. That takes a different kind of concentration. The kind that at this moment in time I just dont simply have. Maybe it’s the ADHD. Maybe I’m just afraid to succeed at something that I love. Maybe it’s a bit of both. Whatever the reason, I sure don’t like myself much for it.

 

Being Mindful and Giving Thanks for Another Thanksgiving

peanuts-thanksgiving

I read a news report from a reputable business publication that the company I’ve been working for over 7 years now will be making another significant reduction in its corporate workforce. A spokesperson for the company was quoted that the company is always looking for ways to “optimize” its operation. I can’t help but crack a cynical smile at the way they the spokesperson tries to lessen the psychological blow of mass firings by rebranding it as optimization. Which really is just corporate speak for handing out pink slips like Tic-Tacs, trimming their idea of unwanted fat, and spreading the work that still needs to get done to outsourcing companies. And for the rest of us corporate sharecroppers that managed to avoid the axe, we get to look forward to having the company dump even more responsibilities on our laps with very little if any compensation. Our only reward being that we got to avoid the unemployment line for just a little longer. But you know what, I understand that I can either allow myself to grow bitter and angry; and feel nothing but spite for people in suits that don’t even know of my existence, or I can be mindful that it is the Holiday season. That Thanksgiving is almost here and that I have so much to be thankful for.

For starters I have a beautiful and caring wife that is “with child”(God I love saying that!). A woman that has, for reasons that still eludes me, has decided that she was OK with putting up with my wondering mind, and moody musings. A lady that willingly holds my hand in public, even though I am nobody’s idea of an Adonis. A woman that kisses me gently on the lips and sweetly tells me that I have the saddest eyes she’s ever looked into with the tenderness and love of a merciful angel. Are things always perfect and hunky-dory between us? Off course not. We argue more than I would like, and after all these years it is rather easy for us to get on each others nerves. But our “aim” much like Elvis Costello‘s had for “Alison” is as “true” as it gets.

I am grateful for the little child that is growing within Jess. That little person that was conceived by love and not lust, has sparked a new sense of awareness that I was sorely lacking. The realization that I am going to be a father has slowed down my thought process in some ways. It has brought me a sense of hope that I have not had. It gives me added reason to keep working on myself and keep trying to move passed all my shortcomings. Am I sure I can overcome them all? No. But I have all the motivation in the world to keep on trying.

turkey-prozac-funny-cartoonI am thankful for my family. My mother, my brother, even the sister that I’m not in talking terms with. I am grateful to them because each of them have touched my life and have helped mold me into the person that is writing this today. Are we the ideal notion of family? Unfortunately no. But I still love them with all my heart. Because in the end they are, and will always be, my family. It’s taken me a long time come to terms with that realization.

Since I feel it is relatively safe for me to assume that everyone that is reading these words of mine are in varied states of being alive and kicking, then let us then take a moment to be thankful for the air in our lungs and the rhythmic beating of our hearts. It’s important that we never take the life that we have been given for granted. We should also take a moment to reflect back on those who are no longer with us. Folks like my friend Angel, who has been gone for almost 15 years now, or my other buddy Marlon who died in Iraq, and my father Tomas Gonzalez Jr., whom I had the bitter sweet honor of spoon feeding him the last Thanksgiving meal he would ever have. Each one of them passed on much too young, and it is their memories that remind me to embrace the passing seconds and relish them.

Travers in his most memorable role, as Clarenc...
Travers in his most memorable role, as Clarence Odbody in It’s a Wonderful Life (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is it realistic to sings life’s praises 24/7? Hell no. I mean if we were just marveling at all of life’s wonders all the time we wouldn’t get much done. Plus we all have our George Bailey moments when we wonder if the world would be better off without us; when life feels more like a burden than a gift. But it important that we don’t lose sight that even though life has it’s fair share of painful moments, I personally can attest to that, it also holds more beauty than our scattered brains and modern lives will allow us to appreciate.

Am I my feeling nervous about all this uncertainty that seems to be surrounding my life? Off course I am. Last time I checked I wasn’t an unfeeling machine like the Terminator. In fact I probably feel it a whole lot more now that I have a little baby on the way. But I also know that I’m not alone in feeling that sense of unease. That I am just one of probably millions of lost souls who so happen to be on the same boat. I would also be telling you a bold face lie if I told you I didn’t feel a twinge of anger every time I hear the CEO gleefully touting about the companies record profits, and sales, and how their innovative leadership has managed to make a significant boost to their shareholders portfolio, while those way down the corporate ladder spend sleepless nights wondering how the bills are gonna get paid if they are deemed expendable.  After all, I don’t have the inner peace of an enlightened Buddhist. But I am also trying to reconcile with the fact that life is long and unpredictable and that we can’t put all our energies and focus on possible but unfulfilled future events. Be mindful of them? Off course. Ignoring it completely is just asking for trouble. Be obsessed with it, until it starts affecting your ability to live in the now? Never.

black-friday-memeFor that reason alone I will put to rest, at least for a few days anyway, any lingering thoughts of what if’s. I’m will not brave fighting through an unholy berserker horde that will be foaming at the mouth in search for that perfect Thanksgiving\Black Friday deal. I won’t bitch and moan about having to work most of Thanksgiving day. I will take a moment to reflect on those that are no longer here with us. And when I finally get around to sitting down to enjoy my warm Thanksgiving meal later in the evening, I won’t fret over calorie counts or carb content, or any other things that will rob me of the joys of having a delicious home cooked meal. And above all else I will be extremely grateful that I got to spend the time that was allotted to me with my wife, her family, and our unborn child. At the end of the day that is really what the day should be about.

With all that being said I hope you all out there spend the day taking part in whatever family traditions that makes the day enjoyable and memorable for you. May the turkey or ham, lechon, vegan platter, or whatever it is you choose to eat on Thanksgiving day be moist and delicious and plentiful. And if the meal turns out to be a little dry don’t be too bummed. Just enjoy the day for all it’s worth. I want to wish you and all your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving. Salud.

P.S.

For those who have been frequenting my little blog here from across the pond and other parts of the world, I wanted to take this moment to thank you for reading. If you ever feel inclined please drop me a line and let me know a little about yourselves. I would love to hear from you. Thanks. 🙂

Music to Get Lost In: Chelsea Wolfe – Lone & House of Metal

Music to Get Lost In: Chelsea Wolfe – Lone & House of Metal

I’ve been struggling over the last couple of day to get myself out of a mental funk. I’ve tried to stay busy. You know, hoping to keep myself distracted long enough for the fog to dissipate over me. But it’s just not working. The harder I try to keep myself occupied the more I notice the disconnect that I’m generally feeling. So after a few lame attempts at getting on with business I just find it less taxing not to do anything. I’m just gonna let time pass me by until this feeling has decided that its had its fill fucking with me.

On Tuesday I almost wound-up experiencing a full-blown anxiety attack on two separate occasions. Both times I felt as if someone had their arms wrapped around me and started squeezing slowly but surely. If I concentrated on the feeling long enough I would start feeling the room begin to spin just a bit. But instead of panicking like I have on so many other occasions, this time I just kept breathing, and went downstairs to play some video games. And if at any point the thought of dread crept in, wondering if perhaps this was a heart attack or some other malady that was striking me, I just repeated softly in my head “So What? What does it matter?” And just like that, on both occasions the anxiety just moved on.

I guess that after several years of dealing with anxiety I’m finally beginning to figure out that putting up a struggle, or fighting it is rather pointless. If anxiety is our bodies outworldly response to our inner most fears; the fight or flight mechanism run a mock, then the only real way to combat it is to choose neither. Instead of running or fighting, just take a deep breath, and accept whatever imaginary fate our minds are conjuring up, by simply saying “So what?” I guess when we give up the struggle, and we no longer are fearful of our impending doom, fear can no longer hold sway over us. We’re left with nothing to feel anxious about.

It’s odd, but I wouldn’t say I feel sad; even though most people I think might be inclined to describe it as such. What I sense is more like a numbness. It’s a lack of emotional attachment. Funny thing is that this feeling or lack-off it, always seem to come around during my days off from work. I work all these long hours doing something that I can’t say I find totally rewarding, and when the day finally comes for me to enjoy the fruits of my labor, to bask in some much needed time in the sun, the figurative clouds above me are too thick to allow for me to feel the sun’s warmth. It would totally piss me off, If I could manage to get properly angry right now. But I can’t.

I will admit there are a number of things that are going on that are partially the reason why I’m feeling this way. But I rather not get into it right now because I’m not in the mood to write a 4,000 word post.

So yeah, that’s been my week so far in a nutshell. A whole lot of blah with one or two minor victories to keep this week from being a total washout. But on a cool note I did come across this beautiful “Take Away Show” acoustic set by Chelsea Wolfe on La Blogotheque’s Youtube Channel while I was doing some apathetic and mindless web surfing. (Do people still call it web surfing or am I showing my age?) Never heard of this lady before but she does have a heavenly voice. I think you might dig this set as much as I did. Especially if you having an overcast day like I am. Anyway I hope one of you is enjoying themselves out there. Until next time folks. Stay safe, take care, and be sane. Peace!