Mar 23, 2018

Winter Strikes Again (and again and again)

It's late March, technically spring... but the ground is white from yet another big snow storm. This winter has been hard on us. Less than two weeks ago we were hit with a nasty nor'easter that dumped 25" of wet heavy snow in 6 hours. We lost power for 5 days. Our generator stopped working and we moved in with my dad. Several of our trees and bushes sustained serious damage and I'm not even sure what the full extent of the destruction is yet because it's still buried. And the Friday before that, we had a terrible nor'easter with rain and terrible winds that knocked trees down all over with massive road closures for days. It's crazy.

For me winter is hard enough on its own. I'm a spring/summer person. I struggle with the lack of sunlight and long nights, even with vitamin D and one of those sun lamps. I hate the cold. I feel like I've dealt with enough winter illness already for two lifetimes. The lack of greenery on a gray landscape is depressing. I'm not big on winter sports. Did I mention how much I hate the cold?

This year is different than last year's struggles - last year I would say we had the winter blues on top of continuing challenges - a struggle of endless scary illnesses from daycare and my own struggle with postpartum anxiety. Matthew was seriously sick with some scary things, including being in the hospital twice (and almost hospitalized a third time). I was always so scared, so stressed, so anxious about the kid's health. My own health (I ended up in the hospital for the flu a year ago). Work. Life. Everything. Last winter was hard, it was dark and I was pretty miserable.

But then spring and summer came and those days were just wonderful - the total opposite of the winter we had. As soon as it was April, it was like a switch flipped. We were all in good health, the weather turned warm, the sunshine was invigorating and we spent our days doing fun things again. We pulled Matt out of daycare and got a nanny to break the illness cycle. We started drinking kombucha, taking probiotics and adding a rainbow of vitamins and supplements. We made plans for fun things and were actually well enough to do them. We made small improvements to our house, got things organized, had a good routine going. Spring and Summer were seriously great this past year.

Our fall was good too, though things started to creep in at the edges. A couple of colds for the kids that stressed me out, fearing they were yet another serious illness moving in. Both boys are asthmatics, so even a regular cold means keeping on top of them with asthma medication. Getting up with them in the night when they are coughing  because they can't stop on their own. Stress. Nastier viruses are more serious for them, my boys would qualify for the "complications due to underlying respiratory conditions" caveat. I started dreading the coming winter, fearing a repeat of last year. Georgia got really sick in October and we thought it was the end. A hail-Mary trip to a specialist hospital bought her a few more months and I learned how to give her shots (super fun for someone with a needle phobia). Even though those months were full of a lot of work and stress around her, I'm grateful we had the extra time.

This winter has been tough - not just for being overly long and disastrously snowy, but because we can't seem to catch a break. Hopefully it's almost over because I am SO DONE with it. We do everything we can to keep the kids healthy (probiotics, vitamins, healthy diet, exercise, fresh air outside, plenty of sleep), but of course it's another bad year for illness. December started with the kids catching this terrible cough virus that wouldn't go away (especially bad for asthmatics) - it was so bad the doctor tested them for pertussis and RSV, but it turned out to be a nasty coronavirus. I don't think I slept for 2 weeks. Then we spent our Christmas break with the seasonal flu that's been all over the news (Who gets the flu twice in one year? Thanks 2017!). We skated through January with only one family-wide cold, but then February hit hard with a kindergarten stomach flu epidemic. Which then showed up again in mid-March because the best stomach bugs boomerang (note my sarcasm). And now both kids have another asthmatic cough-cold situation. I miss sleep. When I wake up in the night I get insomnia and stay awake for hours after.

I am grateful  that this year nothing has been serious, because the reality of serious illness and scary diagnoses have hit close to home this year. Our little family unit of 4 is fine, but people we love very much have been going through some really tough things that aren't mine to talk about. But they are in my prayers, I stress, we worry. We are hopeful.

And then Georgia... Georgia continued to decline. Mainly it was the spinal degeneration that was causing her issues, it got worse and worse. She basically needed full time care the last few months of her life. It was tough, it was messy, it was stressful. In the end, it was her time... really more than time, but we just weren't ready. We were never ready. She was our first baby and we're still heartbroken.

Then there's all the usual life stuff, like work stress. Projects, changes, frustrations. The stress of losing power for 5 days in the winter. The generator breaking and requiring fixing. Water pouring through the ceiling light in the kitchen, blowing all the lighting we had in there. We have to do all our dishes and cooking by random lamps we've plugged in. And we still have to fix the dining room light too. Matt threw the ipad into the wash when I wasn't looking and it's toast. Less than two days later he flushed a plastic teacup down the toilet and it took hours for Mike to get it out. He's destroyed 3 sets of blinds upstairs, colored on so many walls. There are so many sticky chocolate fingerprints I can't keep up. Matt's always pressing buttons, turning things on and off, running water in the sinks and leaving them on. He loves to take gross garbage out of the garbage cans, while throwing away things that are definitely not garbage. He's mischievous in a way Ollie never was and keeps us constantly on our toes.

April Update: The mayhem of winter hasn't released us from its grasp. Oliver brought home the flu (as in influenza) from school for Easter/spring break. It was flu B this time, not to be confused with the flu A we had over Christmas. And now we can say that we've officially had the flu THREE TIMES in one year if we go from end-of-March 2017 to end-of-March 2018. That's more times than I've ever had in my life prior. But apparently it's so late in the year now that the October flu shots are losing their effectiveness. And as soon as everyone was finally feeling better,  to keep the fun going, Matt got sick with a stomach bug to start it all over again. It's like we've forgotten how to enjoy a weekend. We can't wait for spring weather! 

It's why I haven't posted much. It's been chaos. Every week there's something, one after another. And if we have a small quiet break, we're scrambling to try to catch up on one of the million things that still need to get done that keeps snowballing. I'm overwhelmed. There's just too much going on and a lot of it isn't even mine to share. And it's not like it's all bad - there are lots of good things in between the crazy and the chaos. I love our life, I love our family.

We are doing okay though. It's hard and we're salivating for spring at this point, but we are okay. And things should start to turn a corner soon - we are filled with hope. Hope for spring, hope for a break in winter illness, hope for warm weather and gardens and long days of sunshine. Hope for getting back to a normal routine. And in the meantime I'm taking care of our family and myself too. I love to read so I'm making sure I take the time to read every single day. I'm planning the garden. I started bullet journaling. I meditate. We drink kombucha instead of beer or wine. I discovered the glories of subscription prescription night creams.

Things are going to get better. We have a lot of really wonderful things planned for this year. Our fridge is full of invitations to so many happy things coming up - showers, parties, birthdays, weddings. New babies. We have two big family vacations this year. My sister is getting married and I'm her maid of honor. There is so much to look forward to - it's going to be an incredible year. We just need to get past winter - it's overstayed its welcome.

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