Monday, July 30, 2012

A Very Pretty Little Reminder

Eliza Jane Doolittle.  Named after the famous character in My Fair Lady and also a song by Vince Gill, "Little Liza Jane". 
She's not just my cat.  She's a reminder of everything I've done right and wrong in my adult life.  I adopted her from the Anti Cruelty Society in Chicago in 1996.  She was tiny.  About 6 weeks old and in a cage all by herself.  They didn't know where she came from or where her siblings or mother were. She had those same huge eyes she has now, but on a much smaller kitty face.  I fell in love immediately.  She came home with me the next day to what was my first apartment when I lived on my own after graduating college the year before.  We were two pretty ladies living together in the world and making our way!

Drinking got in our way.   Drinking took everything away from us.  She didn't ask for it.  She couldn't do anything to stop it except for look at me with those big huge eyes as if to question, "why do you keep doing this every single day to us?"  I never had kids when I was a drunk, and I can't imagine the anguish moms feel for having put their kids through this devastating life.  But I had a glimpse of it with this little soul depending on me for everything and I fucked up.  Every day.  Over and over again.  It didn't mean I didn't love her more than anything in the world.  It just meant that drinking took over any logical thinking or feeling.  IT TOOK OVER AND BECAME MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING ELSE.

She was there while I was an active drunk and lost everything, in the end - even her.  She waited when I was homeless, and she was living with my parents.  She waited when I was in jail.  She waited when I got sober and was in a halfway house.  She came back to me and has loved me ever since because I can take care of her properly now.  Too much to put on a cat?  Maybe.  But I believe I see all that in her eyes.  And she's another reminder of how grateful I am for every gift I have in my life today.  A roof over our heads and money to buy us both food is never taken for granted. 

Where she is happiest.  On my dear sweet Husband.
She is really my husband's kitty nowadays.  They have a very special and sweet relationship that I'm only a tiny bit bitter about.  In reality, when he and I got together and he not only "tolerated" my cats, but FELL IN LOVE with them?  It told me a huge amount about his character and how well we would fit together.  They are his cats now too and, as far as he's concerned, they always have been.   This is one of the greatest gifts of our relationship.  I hear horror stories about couples breaking up over their pets.  It was never an issue for us.  In fact, I believe it made him want to be with me more because of these two kitties.  You remember Sally Boy's story, right?

Sally Boy Kitty on the right.  He didn't find me until AFTER I got sober.
Do I feel guilty that I had to give her up for a while?  Of course I do.  Do I think she even remembers 12 plus years ago?  No I do not.  But I do know that when I look into those huge eyes sometimes, I see where we were back then and where we are now.  We have everything we could ever want and need.  I keep my past close, and she's a big part of that.  I don't regret the past, nor do I wish to shut the door on it.  I live my amends every single day I stay sober.  And a big one of those amends happens to be to one of my cats.  That seems pretty damn good to me.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Things I Love Thursday - Part 45 - Double the Gratitude

The Thing I Love this Thursday is - TWO BABIES IN MY BELLY!  

Let's talk about twins.  Let's talk about one boy and one girl.  Let's talk about going through CVS testing and finding out that both Baby A and Baby B are HEALTHY.

And, ONE BOY AND ONE GIRL! My brilliant idea is to name them Hall & Oates (the girl would be Hall, NAT.), but I can't seem to get Christopher to commit to that.  YET.

We had pretty much one shot here with the In Vitro. And we have gotten the best possible outcome.  I don't know how or why this happened for us and doesn't for so many others and as happy as I am, I also know the heartbreak that others feel as a result of it not working.  All I can say is, my heart goes out to you, I am teary even thinking about it.  Every time I think about it out loud with my husband, we just keep saying, "We are so very lucky."  And I won't stop saying that or believing that for the rest of our lives.  No matter what happens.  When you've been in the shit, You appreciate every damn gift that is given to you.  And I've been in the shit.  I don't regret any of it.   I am absolutely in awe of what is happening.  We can't quite believe it.   You hope for the best and prepare yourself for the worst.

We've been living in this limbo, as the doctors scared the ever loving shit out of us as we are "older" and twins run more of a risk for something being wrong.  So for these last three months, while we've been ecstatically happy to be pregnant with twins, we've been terrified and walking on eggshells.  We didn't know if we would have both babies with us.  We can safely say now that while we are not ever out of danger until they come out of me - and then there's only the rest of their lives to worry about - we feel much more confident that they are both hanging around for the ride.  

We had so much to be grateful for before finding out this great news.  We are the most grateful little family you will ever hope to meet.  I say this all the time,  I deserve nothing.  Life owes me nothing.  So every single gift I am given, I am so grateful for, it's completely overwhelming.  I don't deserve this. It is only through sobriety and doing the next right thing that I have every gift in my life.  Not quickly either.  It starts on the inside and it manifests in that great big smile and belly laugh you hear from me on a regular basis.  GRATITUDE. 

Now, let's talk about serious business from the front:

Complete and utter nonsense from the side:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Tale of Vainglorious and the Bump

This is a tale of a woman who suffers from vainglory.


1. excessive elation or pride over one's own achievements, abilities, etc.; boastful vanity.
2. empty pomp or show.
Her name is, let's just say Katy, for the sake of keeping things simple, and really, I'm not that good at hiding things, take for example the fact that almost every g-d one of you knew I was pregnant before I made my big announcement.

Vainglorious? After 2 holes in one?  You bet your ass I'm vainglorious.
Katy is pregnant. And she is deliriously and incredibly happy and full of joy and gratitude to be pregnant after wanting to be for so very long. This is a happy tale of a bumpster baby growing to life in her belly and all that goes with it.

However, Katy is vainglorious. She had lost 35 pounds in the last year and worked quite hard to get her dietary habits and lifestyle changes incorporated into her entire being and now? Well, now, she has to eat all the damn time.

Almost 15 weeks along here.

She isn't fitting into her cute clothes because she has gained 10 pounds. This is wonderful and healthy and beautiful and don't think for one second that she is wishing it were otherwise, because that's not the case. AND THIS IS NOT COMPLAINING. It's feelings. And we all have these feelings, with the good, come the bad. It's the yin and the yang of being human.

All that Katy is feeling is natural for a woman. Just as feeling the highs are here so are feeling the lows. And the real question is WHAT THE HELL DOES SHE WEAR? OH MY GOD. Vainglorious? HELL YES. How does she still look cute and keep growing little bumpster baby the best of her ability when she cannot fast after a long vacation of eating everything in the Door County region of Wisconsin? SHE MUST KEEP EATING.

This is the difference today. In the old days of her stupid addictive thinking, Katy would stop eating altogether. Now, she must keep eating, but eating GOOD HEALTHY FOOD instead of just crap because she feels like eating crap. Another difference is that Katy exercises today. Not anything crazy, and fully protected by helmets and bubble wrap and water wings and fully hydrated, but something to balance out all the eating. IT IS HEALTHY.

This word people talk about M O D E R - A - T I O N. That word is something that dear sweet Katy knows nothing about, or she thought she didn't, as she is addicted to everything. Everything she has done to excess, she has had to quit. Except for one thing. That attitude of gratitude. She does that all day every day for every little thing she has and feels and gets to experience in life. Because as we all know damn well by now, she shouldn't really have these chances. These opportunities to be so overwhelmingly happy and sad and worried and grateful and stupidly laughingly hopeful about her future are all gifts that she was never promised, they were given to her as a gift for getting sober and for helping others to get and stay sober, her purpose for being on this planet. 

So, in all honesty, this vainglorious thing is helping her to have a healthy pregnancy and to help keep her head screwed on right. Just because there is a baby bump now, doesn't mean everything she's learned is thrown out with the bathwater. I know I'm not alone here, and anyone who wants to shame dear sweet Katy for feeling this way, for feeling human and like a woman who enjoys being all cute, well, you know where you can cram that nonsense.

The moral of this Tale of Vainglorious and the Bump? We all have feelings of vanity. If we can talk about it and not hide or feel ashamed of it, we will all be better for having done that. We don't have to turn into hermits who don't care how we look when we become pregnant and then mothers. At least I don't think that's what we are supposed to do. We want to feel good and look good for ourselves and in turn for our families. That is called BEING HEALTHY. And that can never ever be a bad thing for our children.

Cute and healthy and determined.  And BUMPY.

Let's encourage each other, not beat each other up and say things like, "Oh, wear that now because you will never be able wear that again." BITTERNESS. "Enjoy your time with your husband now, because he will never find you attractive again." EVEN MORE BITTERNESS. And, my favorite, "Wear those heels now, because you are doomed to a lifetime of flats once you have this baby." Ladies, I don't want what you are selling, as you sound miserable and I don't think your family would want that either. I WILL WORK MY ASS OFF TO STAY HEALTHY AND POSITIVE AND CUTE. There, I said it. And there is nothing stopping you from doing the same damn thing. I will be your cheerleader. We are all in this together.

And all the women lived happily ever after, in encouragement and love and not tearing each other down, but instead building each other up, with love and laughter and gratitude for all we have.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

GUEST POST - Don’t Judge a Blog By Its Cover

Hi all! Big thanks to Katy for allowing me to guest post on her awesome blog. Since 99.9% of you have no clue who I am, let me quickly introduce myself. My name is Doyin (pronounced “doe-ween”) and I'm the author of the daddy blog, Daddy Doin' Work. I've only been at this for a few months now and the positive feedback I've received thus far has done wonders for my fragile self-esteem and ego. Additionally I'm learning that there are some not-so-positive aspects to this gig, and that is totally fine too. Oh, and by "not-so-positive" aspects, I'm not referring to the haters. Anyone who is worth a damn will embrace haters because they are the best indicator that you're on the right track with your chosen career. I'm talking about something a little different here. Let me explain.
My most popular and controversial post to date was one that reviewed why Stay-At-Home Moms (SAHMs) have the toughest job in the world. Some loved it, some thought I was off my rocker, and some were left completely confused. Let me spend a moment on the "completely confused" folks. They weren't confused because they didn't understand the concept I was trying to convey; they were confused when they saw what I look like.
Here are a few of examples of emails/Facebook message exchanges I had with people who were referred to my FB page or blog by someone. Please note, I omitted the non-essential stuff and changed the names to protect the, um... "innocent."

First was Laura. She's a white woman (probably in her 30's based on her Facebook profile picture) and we had the following Facebook message exchange:

Laura: "Hi there! I was so moved by your SAHM post. It was brilliantly written and it makes me feel validated as a SAHM. Quick question, who is the black guy on your page? Is he a professional athlete or model?"
Me: "Thanks for the kind words! That's a picture of me. Why do you ask?"

Laura: "Nice! It's so refreshing to see a black person who writes well and doesn't act all ghetto. I wish they were all like you. Keep up the good work!"

Debrief: First off, it never gets old to read that someone thinks that I look like a model or professional basketball player. However, our friend Laura hit one of my pet peeves squarely on the head. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I cringe whenever I see people who:
·        Say “that’s retarded” to describe something or someone that they believe is dumb or unintelligent.
·        Say “that’s gay” to describe something or someone that isn’t cool.
·        Say “that’s ghetto” to describe a behavior or something that isn’t of the highest quality.
If you’re above the age of seven, you should know better than to say these things. I’ll go out on a limb here, but I would bet a paycheck that Laura hasn’t been within 100 yards of a ghetto in her lifetime. Fortunately I’m not one to get offended easily so I brushed it off – but a memo to my wonderful white readers: Please don’t say things like “act ghetto” to a black person. Most of us don’t like that very much. All in all, I think Laura had good intentions and didn’t mean any harm by her comment. I could’ve done without the “I wish they were all like you” statement, but I’m willing to let that slide.

The second was James. Here's our email exchange:

James: "Hey there, great blog! Have any of your readers commented on how weird it is that you’re the author?”
Me: "I’m not quite sure what you mean. Care to explain?"
James: "No disrespect, but don’t you find it odd that a black guy who looks like a pro basketball player composed such a great piece about Stay-At-Home Moms? It’s definitely not what I expected.”
Me: "Just out of curiosity, what did you expect?"
James: "I don’t know…I'm just shocked that someone who looks like you writes so well."
Me: "So what does a good writer look like?"
***No response***

Debrief: The universal law states that whenever someone says "no disrespect," it means that somebody's about to get disrespected. Again, much love to James for thinking that I look like a pro baller, but I took issue with his comments. Why would my appearance have anything to do with writing an article about SAHMs? My mom was one, so if there’s a man who knows about the topic it’s me. I ended the exchange by asking him what a good writer looks like. Would I be more credible if I looked like Steve Urkel from Family Matters? Or if my skin color was a few shades lighter? By the way, aren’t these just words on a computer screen? Who cares what the person looks like who created them? I sure as hell don’t. Since James never responded to my question, I hope he’s thinking “Wow, it was pretty stupid of me to say that” instead of “What an idiot. How could he not understand what I’m trying to say here??” I guess I’ll never know.

The last one was Jackie. Here's our email exchange:

Jackie: "A friend referred me here. I think it's cool that you're writing a parenting blog about your daughter. You don't see that too often."
Me: "What do you mean?"
Jackie: "I work in the inner city, and trust me - black men never talk about their kids, especially their daughters. They're always too busy talking about rap music, smoking weed, or basketball. You can be the change they need."

Debrief: I have a fundamental problem with the words “never” and “always,” because there are, um…always exceptions. Maybe it’s just me, but I chuckled that Jackie believes she’s an expert on black people because she works in the inner city. I live in Los Angeles – does that make me an expert on pretentious, stuck-up, self-important skanks and douchebags? Well, I do know a lot about those things since I’ve lived here for ten years, so maybe she makes a good point there. Anyway, all of the black fathers I know (including my dad and two brothers) love their kids and don’t spend all day freestyle rapping, getting high, or playing ball. It’s a dangerous exercise to throw a blanket over a group of people like that.

Overall it starts with us as parents. We have to teach our kids “not to be dicks" and stop judging people based on appearances. Speaking of appearances, let's test something out: Check out the picture that I included for this post. Based on appearances alone - would you guess that this individual watched Finding Nemo over 25 times and sobbed uncontrollably at the end of each viewing? Would you guess that he's a Carly Rae Jepsen fan? Would you guess that he enjoys cooking more than playing basketball? When he’s not asleep would you guess that he spends 80% of his time smiling and laughing? Would you guess that writing is his favorite hobby? Would you guess that everything he does is centered around making his wife and 17-month old daughter happy? If your honest answer is “no” to any of these questions then you’ve probably fallen victim to the stereotypes that exist in society. I want to raise my baby girl to embrace diversity, because in doing so she'll realize that we’re a lot more similar than we are different.
In closing, I know that stereotypes still exist; even in the blogging world. I could be pissed off or frustrated by it, or I can be my best self and show the people around me that I'm just one of many educated, positive, black fathers in this world who put his children first. Maybe I'm just naive, but as a writer I want to be judged for my writing. I don't want any of this "You're a great writer for a black guy" shit. Additionally, I don’t write for just black people – I write for anyone who has kids, will have kids (like Katy), or wants to have kids. If you think my blog sucks, that’s cool. If you think my blog is epic, that’s even better. Just don't grade me on a curve or give me any patronizing props because of my skin color. It’s just nuts to me that it’s 2012 and race is still an issue with some people.
I hope I didn’t come off as an angry black man who wants to kill whitey. Anyone who knows me understands that I’m a teddy bear without an angry bone in my body. Also, I love whitey. Literally, I do – my wife is half-white and half-Japanese. My main motivation to share this story with you is so you can take a deeper look at yourself to see if there are any negative stereotypes that you subscribe to. If so, you could be missing out on a lot of cool people, experiences, and blogs that could make your short stay on earth all that more enjoyable.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to work on my freestyle rap album.

Doyin Richards shares his unique and hilarious adventures as loving new dad on his blog on Twitter at @daddydoinwork, and Facebook

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's Been a Hot Minute

It's been a hot minute since we talked about smoking. CIGARETTES.  Let's re-visit shall we?  I've not had a smoke since March. 

Done, over, KABLAMMO. 

However, the desire is still there - and so strong.  Sometimes not at all and for a long period of time, but then, the other night we were at a bar and while the drinking is tempting, sure, the smoking is incredibly tempting. 

I've learned how to handle the drinking cravings that only strike once in a blue moon nowadays and I play out that tape and then do the whole ONE IS TOO MANY AND A THOUSAND IS NOT ENOUGH deal and I'm over it. 

The smoking is harder.  I never smoked until I quit drinking so it was my entire coping mechanism in social situations.  You take the drinking away, my first defense, and replace it with smoking, my second defense.  For someone as socially awkward as I am it was my escape, my two minutes by myself and breathing the sickly corrosive chemicals that were so so sweet and soothing.  I understand it's the opposite, but for the sake of me being a smoker, please don't lecture me. As I analyze it even more, I realize it was a deterrent, a way to push people away even, which for me was another benefit.  "I have to go smoke" was the perfect way to get away from anything uncomfortable and it worked for years. 

It strikes at odd times and hard.  It is so strong that I feel compelled to feel my pocket and my purse to see that I don't have a smoke in there.  I look around and case the room to see who's a smoker - YOU CAN ALWAYS TELL A SMOKER - and quickly wonder how I can ask to bum one.  But now I've gotten to that place where I can do the same damn thing with smoking that I do with drinking.

"What is the need?  What will it fill?  With this one smoke you will then want 10 more after that."  I still carry around my electronic ciggy with me everywhere just so I can feel it in my hands like a safety blanket.  It doesn't have any juice in it, but it somehow makes me feel better for that moment.  And you know what?  I will do whatever it takes to not be smoking. 

Though not as deadly and consequential as drinking for me, I KNOW SMOKING KILLS, but drinking will kill me more quickly - smoking is still going to kill me.  And I have done everything in my power to give this baby a fighting chance.  Baby aside, this is about me doing what I need to do to be healthy and in turn be healthy for this baby. 

But dammit if I didn't want a smoke so badly the other night I almost instinctively picked up a butt in an ashtray that was still smoking.  This addiction shit is in my blood.  And because I know and accept that, I can fight it.  And I intend to, one craving at a time.  And I know you can too.  I KNOW YOU CAN.  I believe in you.  

Today I am a smoker who is not smoking.  And that is something I didn't think I would ever be able to say.  Never say never is the lesson I've learned this year ALL OVER THE DAMN PLACE.  And it is so very good to prove myself wrong.   

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Things I Love Thursday - Part 44

This is what I love this Thursday.

This is the first item of maternity clothing I purchased when we found out I was pregnant and that it was most likely going to stay that way.  I mean, we still aren't SURE sure, because you can't be, but you know what I mean. 

Anyway, my dear sweet husband is a CUBS FAN.  And, I come from a long line of Cubs fans, so I am all in with him on this.  And yes, that means groans and eye rolls and heartache and a lifetime of being let down and repeated misery.  Why would anyone want that?  Because it also means history and tradition and HOPE.

That's right.  You know we are big on hope here at IWADB.  And that is how I'm spinning this Cubs thing.  My grandparents honeymooned out in Mesa in the stone ages and then went every single year of their very long lives for their one big trip out to Cubs Spring Training.  I find that incredibly romantic and hopeful. 

I choose to find my husband's fandom completely hopeful as he will sit and watch every single game even when they continue to slap him in the face for being loyal.  He gets angry.  He gets frustrated.  He even turns off the games or walks out if he in Wrigley Field.  I've seen it.  But he always goes back.  HE ALWAYS GOES BACK.  Because he has hope.  

He is STUPID WITH HOPE and I find that incredibly noble and sexy. I am all in for the Cubs.  But more so, I am all in for my husband and this baby being a Cubs fan.  Maybe in his/her lifetime there will be a World Series Championship for the Cubs.  Always choose hope.  Even when it comes to baseball.  My husband would say I am completely simplifying this whole thing, but I just know what I see and this is how I see it.  This is how I color this whole thing.

And now, I give you Eddie Vedder and his magical tribute to the Cubs.  SWOON.  

This makes us weepy every time.  Sentimental bullshit?  Yes.  But I choose hope and I'm much happier than saying, IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN, JUST GIVE IT UP ALREADY.  We need baseball.  We need the familiar sights and smells and feelings it evokes in us every summer.  And we need to feel that hope of a new year, a new team, a new chance. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Most Important Thing I Need to Do While Pregnant

Being pregnant in this day and age is no easy matter.  But, I promise you this, I am not listening.  And I am not reading or watching or learning anything.  I am staying blissfully ignorant.

Now, if you believe that totally, you are a sucker.  It would be impossible to not know some things.  And trying as hard as we have and spending the time and money and effort and heartache to MAKE THIS BABY, we have learned quite a bit.  So, here's my proposal:

Let's all just enjoy what we have and be grateful for the day. That's it.  Not living in the future of what it will be like, as I could not possibly know.  No matter what you tell me, I will not understand until I'm there, right?  

I am not stressing.  I am not worrying.  And you cannot make me! You with your helpful hints and savvy tips that I will need when I have this baby will be appreciated when I need them, but for now, we are just living in the moment as much as we possibly can. 


Just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I chuck all my sobriety living in the moment out the window. I am dealing with and grateful for what I have today.  I mean, I am SUPER GRATEFUL for what I have today.  Aren't you?  This being pregnant and sober thing is new. 

This baby will never have to see his/her mama drunk if I keep doing what I need to do to stay sober every day.  


This baby will never have to see his/her mama drunk if I keep doing what I need to do to stay sober every day.  

That is the greatest gift I can give this child.  Better than any advice I can read in books or Internet chat rooms or from you my Diver Faithful, or EVEN from the doctor's offices.  First and foremost, my sobriety is going to make or break this kid. 


That's it then.  What is the single most important thing about having a baby?  For me, and for this baby in my belly it is that I stay sober.  And that doesn't mean just not drinking.  That means, working at being happy, joyous and free.  

 I remember years ago seeing a woman in a meeting who was HUGELY pregnant and I thought, geez, that is crazy to be pregnant and be going to AA meetings.  Well, guess who's tanker belly is going to be waddling into meetings up until she can't move any longer and then maybe have them brought to her?

THIS SOBER MAMA RIGHT HERE.  Loud and proud, baby!  You hear me in there?  Your mama is sober and we are going to have a great life because of that if she keeps doing it ONE DAY AT A TIME. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Really REALLY Really Big News!

This is it y'all.  Remember all that crazy IN VITRO shit we were fortunate enough to get to do?
Well guess what? 
The day we found out.
IT BLOODY WORKED!  We are officially announcing that my dear sweet dumpster husband (DH) Christopher and I are 3 months *or* 12 weeks PREGNANT!!!!

I popped last week. No more sucking it in!
There will be many more posts about all this, I promise.  But for now, I wanted to thank you all for your incredible patience, love and encouragement during this time. I know we cut you off and I appreciate your understanding of what a delicate time it's been.  Some of you have guessed and I thank you for not shouting it out. It's been so hard not to SCREAM IT TO THE WORLD (and more so to hide it in pictures!) but my dear sweet husband has kept me in check.  We balance each other out that way.  We have been so nervous up until now and still are, but really, we are at a place where we can start enjoying and being excited for this amazing gift we've been given.  Still a bit surreal, but man, it feels so good.  Anything can happen, it's all so fragile, but we are positive and so hopeful!  

And this week, fergetaboutit.
This has been the about the most challenging several months I've had in my life, including early sobriety.  It's not for the faint of heart.  And I know many of you have gone through this and are going through this and all I have is respect and love for you.  This blog and the Facebook page and all of  you have helped to keep me focused and laughing and for that and so many other things, I am so grateful. 

If you want a background on how we got here, please take a look through a few key posts: It's not me, Hormones, Legs Up!, and finally we ended with this, ironically enough, right before Mother's Day (the day we were told we were pregnant, can you imagine?) - the last post before we went dark on baby talk for a while.

Stay tuned.  There is SO MUCH MORE to come.   I thank you and love you for going through all of this with me and for your continued encouragement.