Well. That took a while. I’m back.
But I never really left; I’ve just been doing more offline than at any other time this year. The feelings carrying me through October, November, and most of December 2015 were just about equal to the blurriness and just-barely-staying-afloat that permeated the first few newborn-fueled weeks of the year. I know I’ve got you interested now, so let’s review the autumn months!
Shortly after my last post in early October, my blog was hacked. At least I was spared wild spam postings about sexual performance and making money online; instead, the hackers focused on leaving malicious files filled with virus-y goodness parked in various corners of my website, waiting to do who-knows-what. Luckily, my hosting service found out about it and contacted me. They happily offered to clean up the mess for me for hundreds of dollars, but I rose to the challenge and thanked my lucky stars for frequent backups and a basic know-how of webpage janitorial services.
Following that near-fiasco, I think everybody got sick for a few weeks straight. It’s difficult to say, because most of my memories of that time are feverish and ill-formed. I could also have very easily learned how to float down the hallway during this same period, but I’m still waiting to verify that. I do have solid evidence, however, that a few big projects popped up at work during this time period, which consumed any extra time I had when I wasn’t coughing or in bed. During this time, we also had a bit of a health scare with my grandmother, so we also all took a special trip back to West Virginia for a whirlwind weekend.
In the ensuing weeks, the weather got weirder as well. I’d been training for a half marathon in October all through the summer, but the specter of Hurricane Joaquin forced the organizers to cancel the event a few days ahead of time, only to essentially dodge the DC area. Now, we’re in the middle of an El Niño-fueled swampy Christmas that feels imported from Miami.
October turned into November and we increasingly lowered our expectations on what to do with our free time. There was a whole spell of several weeks where Noah no longer slept through the night. Once we put him to bed, laying down on the couch for a couple of hours before he woke up again seemed to be the best option. Laundry started being done solely based on whether our underwear levels were dangerously low or not. Our DVR filled to dangerous levels with unwatched programs. Our budget and spending became dangerously erratic. In essence, we had regressed back to being parents of a one-month-old. We experimented with different methods of putting him to bed, settling on a variant of a “gradual retreat” that seemed to help him self-soothe enough to get him to go back to sleep when he did wake. This basically involved one of us sitting increasingly closer to the door as we watched him wail in the crib, interspersed with us consoling our little guy and calming him back down. Much to my surprise, after a few nights, he began falling asleep on his own. Our outlook improved slightly after that, and we would have celebrated as well had we not been so tired.
It was around this time that Thanksgiving was drawing close. Scheduled to go to West Virginia, we looked forward to a few days’ rest with extra help to watch Noah. It was even conceivable to think of the trip as a vacation, something we hadn’t had all year.
That was the case right up until I got into a car accident on I-295 the Thursday before we were to leave and totaled my old, trusty Altima. Before you get concerned, I walked away from it just fine, as did everyone else involved. It wasn’t even that much damage; it was just a little too much for the old bird to bear. I was dealing with insurance and an obstinate towing company that refused to give up my car for a few more days, right up until I came down with a nasty stomach virus that laid me low for a few days more. That particular bug made its rounds through our whole family. Miraculously, we all improved enough to still go to West Virginia, just several days later than we had originally planned and on some of the worst traffic days of the year. Even a shortened version of the holiday worked wonders for our health, and spending time with family was worth it.
After Thanksgiving, our eyes turned toward Christmas as our next real extended break, but I could have sworn the world was doing everything it could to keep us from getting there. Gina’s workload kept going up. Our free car rental through my insurance couldn’t last forever, so we had to work in an entire afternoon to buy a new car (a 2016 Camry). At least that seems to have worked out in our favor so far, but it did take time away from planning Noah’s first birthday party (not to mention Gina’s portion of planning a baby shower the next weekend). The Toy Story-themed party went off without a hitch and was a lot of fun, and it was great to catch up with friends we hadn’t seen in a while, but I don’t think either one of us sat down the entire time.
As we neared the finish line for the year, Noah threw us one more curveball by contracting another daycare plague, this time in the form of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. (No, this isn’t the same thing as Hoof and Mouth Disease in cattle. And while I feel like they could have come up with a more creative name for it, it’s unfortunately fairly common in the under-five crowd these days, so no need to call the CDC yet.) Shortly after that, I had another feverish couple of days, laid low with yet another weird virus. (Enough with the viruses already!) Luckily, both Noah and I have been given a clean bill of health this week so Gina and I could finally begin organizing our house and put up our Christmas tree. (I had been predicting we wouldn’t decorate it until Christmas Eve, but we beat that by a whole day!) Unfortunately, Noah also shared his virulent Christmas gift with his Nana, so now our holiday plans are under revision even as I write this.
All of this might read as a long list of complaints, but there were certainly highlights. Reconnecting with family and friends, making new friends, Noah’s constant developments and new facial expressions, and personal triumphs all brought some needed levity and joy. And don’t get me wrong, throughout all of this I also counted my blessings that we were at least keeping everyone clothed, fed, and housed, if not 100% healthy and happy every day. Sure, there were so many horrifying things happening in the world – Paris, Colorado Springs, and San Bernardino chief among them – that I fully admit to sitting down and tearing up several times when I contemplated the kind of world our son would be inheriting. The political grandstanding that now follows these events, and the idea that a gun-toting radical with any motive could strike anywhere at any time just depresses me even more. But I suppose this period of trials has, in a way, made our family stronger as we look more toward each other for support and finding small moments of happiness when we’re exhausted by it all. Luckily, Noah’s got an abundant supply of those, every time he smiles, and I have hope for his potential to do good. It’s this hope, plus faith and love that will see us through, I am confident of that.
But it would still be nice if the beginning of 2016 was just a teeny bit easier.
And even if it doesn’t turn out to be, just like our traditional folk hero Adele who brings us all together every time she releases an album, at least I can say that I’ve tried.