Friday, September 23, 2011

Oh, hi!

Important stuff:

1) Mom's surgery went well. She's been recovering nicely, and the pathology report came back clean, so she doesn't need any chemo follow-up. Her doctors did a great job and her remaining vocal function was preserved. I was glad to be there taking care of her for a few days, but it does make me wish we lived closer together (or that DH and I lived back home).

2) My appointment on Tuesday was good. Monday night was difficult. There was a lot of fear and a lot of preparation for bad news, because I just wasn't convinced that this pregnancy could be viable.

DH was not able to be there for the u/s, because of timing issues, which was nerve-wracking. They were running on time though, and had me back quickly, and within three minutes of entering the room, I was getting intimate with the dildo cam. Right away, an image popped up, but I didn't have a great angle on it. The tech pointed out a blob, and then began pointing out the yolk sac and I couldn't take it and blurted out, "But is there a heartbeat?" and she laughed and pointed it out.

It was cool because with Gabriel, it was a pole or grain of rice with a flashing pixel. The extra week made a real difference because this time it was a blob and I could see the heart expanding and contracting as it beat. Very neat. Measured 6w6d - or spot on for fertilityfriend's chosen ovulation date. That meant that as with Gabe, my hcg levels were really high. No twins, thank god. The heartrate was 134 bpm, which is fantastic for about 7 weeks. It appeared the placement was good.

The relief was overwhelming. And I'm still more relaxed than I was a week ago. Knowing that the horrible, horrible nausea and fatigue and every other physical thing isn't completely in vain makes it a bit more bearable.

But for all of that, I still refer to the pregnancy rather than the baby, still feel detached (and would be happier if I could just ignore it for awhile), and am just feeling grimly that I want to get on with things. Oh, there are moments of excitement and I find myself too easily slipping into thinking about the future as if it might come to be. I can talk about baby names or returning to work, but I shook like a leaf after telling my brother we aren't attending his wedding, because I am pregnant and am likely to have the cerclage the placed about that time. It seemed too much like calling attention to the pregnancy and that's what I want to avoid at all times. There is a primal inner urge to keep my head down and not to draw attention to us and that may be the only way to sneak this through.

I simply cannot forget how it ended last time we got this far. I can still feel as clearly as when it happened how it felt to finally let my guard down with Gabriel and fall in love completely with him. And I still can't quite forget the sense of betrayal I felt when it was snatched away just four days later. Of course I can't escape it. Every day is a comparison, and Gabriel seems to be more firmly present in my mind than he has been in awhile.

But yet again, for all the fear, there is a peace somewhere. No idea how long it might last, but there is a certain pull that is difficult to explain. I would not dare to say I feel optimistic, but the fear is more conscious than deep-seated in my soul. I am not sure if that makes sense. With Chickadee, there was simply a disquiet deep within that I kept trying to overcome with logic - I had symptoms and no spotting, things were probably fine! But I couldn't shake it. Despite everything going wrong that did with Gabe's pregnancy, I continued to try to be optimistic because he was well. But there again, a disquiet in my soul that I tried to talk over. So far, this is the reverse. There is not yet a soul-dread, but there is plenty of logical fear and I talk myself into negatives as if that might protect me. I feel like I need to avoid comfort or settled in or smug, but it's so I'm not tempting fates, not entirely because of a deeply rooted terror.

For now, anyway.

This after-life is complicated. Well, so it is and always has been. I should be used to living as a walking contradiction, but it never has gotten easier to figure out.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


One of the things I remembered clearly about my pregnancy with Gabriel was how miserable it was. There were moments of joy - I can remember the occasions when we listened to his heartbeat in a reassuring rhythmic lub-dub, and chasing him with the doppler, and feeling him move inside me.

But for the first twelve weeks, I was in complete misery. Overwhelmed by fear, and terribly sick. I can remember how difficult it was to find things to eat that would stay down, I can remember individual vomiting sessions. I remember at least two weeks in which I subsisted on Easy Mac, v8 fusion and smoothies. I can remember that it was dreadful. I can remember how much worse it got when constipation struck, and how incapacitated I was when the bleeding episodes hit. Further on, I can clearly remember the clutch of terror at the feeling of a clot sliding out of me in a gush of warm, red blood.

But the visceral feeling? How it felt to be so ill? What that vomiting felt like. How miserable it was to have nothing I could eat that would not come up again. How sore and aching my muscles would be, how charming the pinpoint hemorrhaging around my eyes was.

I've been very forcibly reminded of these things.

Very little is staying down - Gatorade, very cold Sprite, water are going down and mostly staying down. Food eaten after 7 seems to have a better chance than anything before that, save crackers. I'm quickly remembering survival techniques like eating bland foods, remembering that protein helps, but carbs like mashed potatoes and noodles stay down more easily. Chicken broth is a god-send.

Vomiting doesn't make me feel better, mostly, but is sometimes unavoidable. I don't like feeling like this at all. I should be grateful for the symptoms, but not only was I unable to go into work this weekend, I have no idea how I'll make it tomorrow. The balance of work and this illness is terrifying to me when I need to prove myself and feel so utterly behind and so physically incapable.

Of course, I also have to cynically wonder how large a role the progesterone is playing in this sudden downward spiral into worse than morning sickness. I mean to say that before I had this prescription, I'd experienced inreasingly frequent and strong bouts of nausea. I'd gagged over brushing my teeth a couple of times and I certainly threw up my prenatal quite unexpectedly and violently Tuesday morning. But this all day paralysis of near-vomiting and the degree to which I vomit when it does happen didn't really hit until yesterday, which followed 2 doses of progesterone. Taking it vaginally is supposed to reduce side-effects, because it bypasses metabolization in the liver. I'm not convinced it is poisoning me, to be honest.

I do think this will be a little easier if this pregnancy is viable. The uncertainty right now makes coping with this much more difficult.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Saw my regular OB yesterday

Ok, let me say this first. I've been wondering in the last couple of weeks why I was still trying to work with Dr. B's office. It was frustrating, felt obstructionist, and the bureaucracy was killing me. Admittedly, I didn't go back for awhile; but the last thing I'd been told was not "You need to come in every year to maintain current patient status, so whatever happens, we'll see you in November!" It was "Call when you get a positive pregnancy test so we can start running labs." I don't blame them for wanting to keep their patients current, given that it is a busy practice and given that it gives them the opportunity to work on helping their patients stay healthy. But the fact that there was no recourse for me was beyond frustrating.

However, the moment she stepped into the exam room, I remembered why I wanted to work with Dr. B. She's awesome. She gets it. In fact, this is how that went down:

Dr B walks in and asked, "Ok, so how are you doing?"

"Um, terrified? That's a good word for it," I responded.

She plopped down on the wheelie stool and said, "Well of course you are! But you're going to be fine." She immediately proceeded to say that she's looked over my labwork and thought the numbers looked fantastic, and that she's not too concerned about the progesterone because the hcg looks so good. Of course, she is giving me a prescription for progesterone suppositories, so if there is a problem, those will take care of it.

Relief, blissful relief. (btw, what I think she meant about not being concerned was not that progesterone was fine, but that the pregnancy seemed otherwise viable at this point. There was nothing concerning in the hcg that suggested progesterone would merely delay a spontaneous miscarriage.)

The rest of the visit was equally reassuring. She talked to me like I was an intelligent woman who knew what she was talking about; at no time was she condescending or patronizing. There was no discussion about my weight (which, thank you. I know I'm morbidly obese, but there isn't much to do about it now, is there? Thank you for treating me, and not scolding me about my size!). She discussed needing to find a high risk doctor to do concurrent care with, and I told her I already have an appointment with Dr. K and she was pleased. She said she'd get my records over to him before then. We talked about a scan (scheduled for 9/20) - she didn't want to try yesterday because of the likelihood we would not see a heartbeat and how worrisome that would be for me. She talked about the likelihood of a prophylactic cerclage and said I should probably prepare myself for some bedrest or at least modified work schedule.

She was just . . . perfect. Understanding, reassuring without being overly positive, talked with me as if I am a partner in this endeavor. Exactly what I needed. It was a relief. When I was wrapping up with the appointment lady, she walked by and gave me a big squeeze and that summed it up. I get the sense that she cares about me and understands why I'm a wreck right now. I wish her practice were less bureaucratic, but I can work with it now that I'm a re-established patient.

I got the prescription filled yesterday (which was it's own adventure as there was a big debate between the pharmacy and the doctor's office about whether or not the standard prometrium were ok to be used vaginally and then about whether I required capsules or tablets and it all ended with a sheepish call from the nurse explaining that capsules were actually just fine and sorry for all the confusion). First dose last night and at first I thought I was fine. Then I tried to go upstairs and I was extremely sleepy and very dizzy. I slept very, very well last night and woke up feeling groggy and a little out of it. Hey, whatever, as long as it works and gives this pregnancy a chance to succeed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Good News/Bad News - Blood draw 3

Good news: Beta, drawn at 135 hours past previous between 20 and 22 dpo came in at 7273, which is a doubling rate of 34 hours.

Bad news: Progesterone has dropped from 11 (low end of normal) to 8.4 (below normal).

Verdict: I am officially freaking the fuck out.

I called my doc's office - she's back from vacation. Her office will still do nothing until I see her, but the nurse is squeezing me into the first appointment of the day at 8:30. Hopefully I can then get a progesterone supplement.

The question is whether or not it will be too late tomorrow morning for progesterone supplementation to work. Google produces a lot of anecdotal high-fives and success stories and a number of 'too late' stories when HCG was normal or better. The fact that hcg is increasing so well, and that I have no spotting or cramping is hopeful. The fact that pregnancy symptoms are disappearing is concerning.

I am, frankly, terrified. Everything but this has been so good. I don't know if this will work out. And I did everything I could to try and get a prescription for supplementation, to no avail. I feel like I'm going to cry, I'm so stressed out and worried and scared.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Update 5 - Not what we planned

Given everything with work, with how tired I am, with how much I need to focus on my health and really lose some weight, and given a promise I made my boss that I would not have a baby during a time that would have me out during the summer (for as far as I could prevent it), we decided after work started seriously discussing me taking over Dept 3 that it was time for the long break from trying to conceive we'd talked about.

After all, last year, when I had just taken over Dept 1, my cycles went insane from the stress and I only had one clear ovulation in the fall and a couple of weak ovulations in the winter. I felt like the best thing we could do was take a break. I planned to call my OB and schedule an annual appointment and discuss our options, get serious about dropping some of this weight, and continue paying down our debt - we've started to get serious about house renovations. And frankly, I could use a break from ttc, from the rollercoaster of emotions it produced, from the faint lines and the hope and the terror. I know that I'm not done with trying, but I was accepting that I was ready for a break. Dh was supportive. Of course, that all happened in the days after ovulation.

Are you getting a sense of where this is going?

Well, I'm not one to completely ruin the suspense.

Seven days past ovulation was Gabriel's birthday. I hadn't felt anything, really, not even sore breasts. Nothing was different that day. I did take one of the stupid online cheapie tests that continued to give us faint lines and that DH had asked me to throw away after last cycle. It was completely 100% clear - snow white in the test area, which was nice to see. I knew it wouldn't be positive, but at least the tests were capable of giving me clear negatives.

Eight and nine days past ovulation were relatively the same, save for testing. My mom was coming into town to visit for the weekend, so on a whim, at nine days past ovulation (last Friday), I took a test. I figured it would be negative, as I wasn't overwhelmed with pregnancy symptoms and we both felt pretty convinced that despite good timing, this wasn't likely to be our cycle. Please take a moment to imagine my utter shock when I looked down at the test about 3 minutes in and realized there was a faint but distinctly pink line on the test that already looked darker than the faint lines we'd had to that point. DH agreed that it looked like something. I was even able to get a picture of it, and my friend T agreed she could see it too. A second, and third test agreed that the first was not a fluke. There was a faint line.

Oh, shit.

The next morning, Saturday, was weird. We needed to get the place cleaned up for my mom, but well, we were preoccupied. The first thing in the morning, I peed in a cup and took out the last FR I had in the house. My hands were shaking, and I was convinced it would be negative, but I did it anyway. Within a minute, the line was there, but so what? I'd seen it before with these 'new and improved, more sensitive' FR. An evap line appears, but never turns pink, it's just the test strip becoming more visible. Only, before two minutes have expired, that line is pink. There is no doubt, no twisting and turning and squinting. Not as dark as the control line, but definitely a clear, pink line.

When DH came into the room, I handed him the test with a frown on my face. He took it with an air of long-suffering, and brought it up towards his face, expecting to do the usual stare-down, only to get it about half-way up, see the clear line and shout "FUCK!" and throw the test back at me in surprise. Then he stood there shaking his head and saying, "There is no mistaking that. That's a positive."

It was. In fact, the digital popped up 'Pregnant' in less than a minute and I collapsed into a fit of nervous giggles. The other few hundred tests I've taken have been equally positive, if not more so. Anecdotal though it may be, the tests have continued to get darker and darker, even the stupid internet cheapies are as dark as the control line a week later.

I'll spare you details of the past week, though it's been quite frustrating. A call to the OB's office revealed a patient policy I was unaware of; because I've not seen her in over a year, I have been reverted to 'new patient' status and they will not order labs, order prescriptions or give a referral until I see her. The problem? I need the beta series and the doctor is out of town. And no one else in the practice will see me because I'm not considered an 'established' patient. In the end, I had to go to a private clinic and pay exhorbitant amounts.

The betas came back well so far though, draw one was 188.24, draw two (exactly 48 hours later) was 475.69, which is a doubling time of 35.8 hours. The individual numbers are quite high for a singleton pregnancy at what I thought was 12 and 14 dpo, so there is that. There is a slim possibility ovulation was really two days before, in which case the numbers are above average, but less crazy high.

The big concern was the progesterone. I'd never had progesterone drawn before, and rather wish I'd not now because it's been difficult to stop worrying about it. It came back on the first draw at 11. The normal range is 9-47. So in the range, but on the low end. And everything I've ever heard is that it should be over 15. Oof. Scary. My doctor was out of the picture, so I begged and pleaded and favors were called in and there was drama, but I saw another doctor. I wanted a progesterone supplement.

He was very nice, but unintentionally condescending. He would not give me a prescription, insisting that it was in the normal range and in the absence of any spotting, I needed primarily to relax and let the pregnancy take its course. Sigh. There was one good thing. He's going to try to get me in with a sensitive, good perinatologist - one who's been recommended to me several times. If that comes through, it will have been worth the mortification of that visit.

Really, I'm still worried about it. I decided not to have it drawn with the second beta, and I delayed the third beta on the idea that I will have it drawn again. And since I'm on my own this weekend, and since it's a holiday, and since there is nothing I can do, I decided to wait until Monday to have it drawn. At least then my OB will be back in town and able to squeeze me in if possible and get me progesterone if needed.

Overall, I vacillate between fear and hope. Things have gone pretty well. I couldn't ask for better beta levels at this point. I have symptoms every day - fatigue, large and very tender breasts, queasiness and nausea that come and go, bloating. . . things seem to be as they should be. I passed the point my period should have arrived, and there has been no sign of spotting. The cramping that comes and goes occasionally is disconcerting, but not too worrisome. I try to remember what is normal, but honestly, I've no sense of it for myself. I know what the texts say, but believing it for myself is different.

I am currently going with the earlier possible ovulation date, because it makes more sense to me in terms of numbers, but also because I won't know much before the u/s, if we get that far. So at the moment, about 4w5d (or 4w3d by FF's calculations).

Crazy. Despite the fact that we intentionally had unprotected sex around ovulation time, we can't help feeling like this was unplanned. The timing is not what we would have chosen. And yet, there is so much hope right now. It feels good. You know, in between the moments of pure terror (like every time I go to the bathroom, because I'm afraid spotting will have started).

Honestly, I have been through just about everything at this point. I know I can handle whatever will happen. I know I'll live and be ok, whatever happens. What's killing me is the waiting to see what that is going to be. The uncertainty and lack of control is unsettling at best. But I suppose, really, that's life, isn't it?

Update 4 - Gabriel's Birthday

I honestly don't know what to say about this. Wednesday, the 24, was two years. I took the day off work, and it was good. I wrote out his birth story again, on Glow, and it was awful. I cried. And cried some more. And then I slept and that was largely that. DH and I went to dinner, and we didn't talk much about it until last weekend. Most of my emotion about it was spent two weeks before when I was more tense than can be imagined, when my temper was beyond frayed and my patience gone and I snapped at someone that if that goddamned department called me one more time I was going to strangle someone . . . and then from nowhere, I said aloud, "I miss him. I miss Gabriel. And I wish he was here." Ah, yes, I knew then.

It's something I felt oddly about. Most days, I feel at peace with it. Which is not to say I am ok with it or that I don't still feel all the things I felt two years ago - anger, sadness, terror, regret, guilt, love. I still miss him, who he would have been, who DH and I would have been, the life we would have had. I still see him out of the corner of my eye, and wish I could catch a fuller glimpse and drink in his features.

But I can't. And I think I've began to resolve that within myself. The things I felt two years ago are still there, but are more measured. They are a background noise, familiar and comfortable. I know that a fear I had early on that I was unable to articulate is that I would forget him. That I would cease to love him because he wasn't here to be loved, that he would become less important to me, and if he did, then he would cease to matter.

And something I've learned, two years later, is that the fear I felt then was unfounded. Gabe is my son, my darling little boy. How can I ever forget him? How could I ever stop loving him? I can't. And more than that - he won't be forgotten. He is remembered and equally loved by many people. Will that carry forward beyond our lives? Not with his name or mine, no, but then little will. The love that he inspired, the kindnesses that have happened in his memory, the acts of compassion, the children who were hugged a little tighter or loved a little more because their parents suddenly understood how fragile and tenuous it all is . . . those resonances are Gabriel's legacy. Those resonances will spread outwards further and further, reaching beyond our sight, beyond our lives, like water rings from a fallen stone. Who can predict that?

I have changed in two years, and so has DH. And I like to think we've changed for the better. Less judgmental, more compassionate, more aware of humanity and what it means. Kinder to each other, better sense of perspective, of awareness. I think, and this took me a long time to reconcile, that I like who I am now better than who I was. And I think that's ok. It's not that I don't want Gabriel back, in a heartbeat of course. But I do think that I understand he won't come back, not in that way. I won't hold him in my arms again, or finish the story I'd started to read to him. I can continue to commune with his spirit, to appreciate him as he is now. To be grateful for all that he has given me and taught me.

Do you know, Chris on Glow wrote a piece about a year ago (Simple), that said things so perfectly, so beautifully . . . he was two years out from losing his son Silas at that point in time. He wrote that missing Silas was something he did every day, that it was just a part of who he was at that point. I identified with that, with the need to laugh and enjoy life, with the perpendicular lines of reconciliation. With the small smile and admission, with the impenetrable nugget. . .

That is how it is. I think we would have liked to have done more, but we didn't know what to do. Gabe is so commonplace to us, but his death still so painful, that celebrating didn't feel quite right. We haven't hit on quite right yet, but we're getting there. Maybe next year I'll bake a cake.


I did want to note that I have some of the most wonderful friends in the world. They were checking on me that week, that day. A number of people emailed or checked in to let us know they were thinking of him, and of us - and I can't thank you enough for that. I need still to go back and thank you individually, and I hope to soon.

But my friends. Oh, my friends. They did some of the nicest things for Gabriel. There were balloon releases, with his name and birthday tied to the balloons. There were plants and flowers, his name feeding an orchid, his name with candles. And a wonderful story that filled my heart in a way that I can't quite explain. I'm repeating this entirely without permission, but I hope you don't mind T, because it was so wonderful it gave me goosebumps.

"We made him a paper boat, because two year old boys love paper boats,
and took it down to the creek so it could sail to the river and then
to the sea. The SS Gabriel had different ideas, however, and shot
straight across the current and towards the far shore where he was
lost from sight.

I think when you finally reach the far shore, you'll find him there
with sandy feet and a curling smile, wondering what took you so long
when he sped across so easily."

Somehow, I think she's right.

Update 3 - My mom

I found out last weekend that my mom is having her thyroid removed in the middle of September, because of an inconclusive biopsy.

She's been having voice problems; her voice has weakened and she constantly sounds like she's at the end of a bad cold - weak and raspy. She's been seeing a specialist, but it's been hard to pin down. More than just growing old, but nothing clear or obvious. So she's had numerous scans and things, and in an early CATscan, they found nodules on her thyroid. Now that, in itself, is not uncommon and they were not concerned at the time.

They thought they'd isolated the problem and treated it, but it apparently didn't have the success they hoped for, so in preparation for a different type of treatment, they repeated the scans and this time there was something concerning with these nodules. So it was time for a biopsy. That was inconclusive and they've decided that removal is the best option. The actual chance of cancer is low, but nevertheless . . . we want her to be safe and healthy.

So, that's happening. I'm taking time off work to go be with her. She was worried that I would be too overwhelmed when I got back. Clearly, I need to stop complaining about work, because fuck that. My mama's the important thing here. For three or four days, they should be able to deal.

Update 2 - the car accident

First and most important after a title like that, we are fine.

So, there was a light on in the car, related to the electronic stability control. We noted it, but the car seemed to be driving fine, so we decided to wait until September, when things were calmer at work (hahahahahaha) and we were planning to take it in for the 50,000 mile fluid flush/check up anyway.

You may have heard that Texas was experiencing record heats and excessive droughts. I'm used to droughts from New Braunfels. They exist over an aquifer and aquifer levels were always important during summer. And of course, the ability to tube the rivers is a big part of the city income, so I'm used to water restrictions of some kind, but all my time in Houston, this year was the first I could remember such things here.

The problem here in Houston is that the city isn't built for it. We've had a number of water main breaks, which, as you can imagine, isn't good.

In this case, a water main break, a right turn, and the electronic stability control being less than 100% functioning combined to cause the car to fishtail, overcorrect and I had absolutely no control of the car at all. It was one of the scariest moments of my life, particularly when the car did a full 360. We ended up on a curb-height median. It was maybe 10 seconds, but I truly thought for a moment that we were going to end up in on-coming traffic.

In the end, the damage was minor - the splash plate under the car that protects it from debris flying into the engine had to be replaced. There was a bad sensor in the right rear wheel well that caused the erratic reactions by the electronic stability control. That was covered by warranty and they cut us a deal on the rest because the accident was related to that. The part was no cost, we paid labor.

In the end, the rental car cost as much as the repairs. About $800 I didn't anticipate spending, but we are ok, and that is the important thing. I was a hysterical mess immediately after, and DH didn't quite understand why, since we were ok. Once I explained that I had had no control of the car at all, he was a lot more sympathetic. But I'll tell you something - never, ever again. This only clarifies why I will never live in or drive in a state with winter weather. Utterly terrifying.

Update 1 - Work.

Right. So, I never actually posted again. Oops? There's been quite a bit that has happened, so I'm going to break it down into a few posts.

Up first, work.

So, a big part of the reason I haven't posted is that because so much has been happening that I really couldn't (and can't) talk about. Partially because it requires so much backstory, partially because I know about some things I can't talk about, and partially because I've been so fucking exhausted that I didn't much feel like it.

Most of the summer saw me working late everyday and coming in at least once a weekend. My departments, special snowflakes that they are, are doing well. Mostly, I was helping out the division office. I used to work for the division office; I was the division office's department administrator. A year and a half ago it was decided that due to budget cuts, departments would no longer each have their own business administrator, and instead, some would be cut and the rest would be centralized and responsible for multiple departments.

Right, here's the thing. We have some small departments where there is no business or support staff apart from the administrator and some large departments that have (and require) several support and business staff. In other words, vastly different needs. It's a lot to try and piece together. As people left (retired, resigned), we did not replace them, but instead pulled those programs into a pilot program. A year ago, one of the biggest departments went vacant and I was given that department, but I didn't move out of the division offices, because we were centralizing business staff. In another shift, a department that is closely tied to mine was also given to me.

The departments I inherited were both in not good shape, financially or procedurally. I think we've come a long way in a year and we've gotten to a much better place. I've gotten one of my directors to understand budgeting and why it's so important, which is great. We're putting a realistic budget in place in my other department as well. And we do things mostly on time, people get paid on time, and we haven't asked for exceptions to policy, which is good.

However, because of the shifts the office I used to be administrator for, we went from having 4 staff members to 1.5 for months. It became a disaster. My supervisor was doing 3 jobs, including acting as the department administrator for a department that is in bad shape. It was awful. So I offered to help, again and again, and back in May, I started redoing parts of my old job and supporting my supervisor by assisting with paperwork in the department.

Lots of late nights and weekends. I felt it would pay off in the long run, as I was making my case to be one of the top tier of centralized administrators (the plan was to have groups of similar departments each supported by 2 administrators, one at a higher level, one at a lower level). And I liked my coworkers and wanted to help. It got tiresome, but I stuck with it.

Around the beginning of August, we finally got a new person to replace my supervisor's old position. He's great, he stepped in and is doing a fantastic job and is a delight to have in the office. Things were looking up, but it was becoming clear that the department in dire straits was even worse off than we realized because of a bad confluence of events - my supervisor doing three jobs, the office coordinator in the department being unreliable, and a bad budgetary situation. Then the coordinator left, leaving no receptionist and no one to do daily financial/HR documents or workflow.

And then my supervisor took a week's vacation. Here's the thing: our fiscal year runs from Sept 1 to Aug 31. We are still wrapping up fiscal year closeout. Taking a day or two is pushing it, depending on deadlines and a full week is unheard of. And the way in which she did it wasn't the most professional. So I offered/was asked to oversee them for that week. I did. It was awful. Hectic, frazzling, and they latched onto me because I actually responded to their questions and visited everyday to see what was needed (it's located right next to my departments, so I was out there anyway). It was hard. And then the dept asked if I could be their administrator. It was so awkward, because I knew that their situation wasn't working, but that's not my decision.

After a long series of talks with my boss, who was pissed at my supervisor, we decided that I would take it over, with additional help to clear the daily processes. My biggest role would be budget oversight, and spending that time necessary at the departments - meeting with people, meeting with the chairs, overseeing staff (hard to do from a different office) and making sure that bills are paid, people are paid, and monthly business processes are completed on time.

That was the plan for a week, but it was only announced on Monday. The new department is happy and I'm glad in one sense because I pushed for it. If I can turn them around, well, I am well placed in my job. And I have a background in this area, so I understand them more than other administrators have. At the same time, I did this already with two other departments and it's hard and takes months of time. A year later, we're doing better, but we're still not 100%. And now I'm doing it again, only, it isn't the only thing I do. I still have my other departments to see to as well. I essentially just doubled my workload.

And I'm not getting anything for it right now. I can't receive additional pay because no one else has received it for taking on a new department. I can and should be reclassed to a higher position . . . but I'm not eligible for another six months, because you can't be reclassified in a career ladder move until you've been in your new position for a full year. Since I was reclassed in March, I am not eligible until then - unless we finish the centralization process. Because in that case, there will be other avenues to pursue. It will happen. I know that.

But for now, I'm still behind from the week my supervisor was out, still have final clean-up to do, and overwhelmed by what lies ahead. So much of my time has been focused on meeting with people and walking back and forth between my office and my departments that I feel like I don't get anything done.

The old departments love me, and the new department is thrilled, and that is very gratifying. But it also feels like a lot of pressure. I think I can do it, but there are times I questions how well it will actually work. The funny thing is that we are setting up a small version of the groups we intend to have so at least we'll have a month or two to get a good look at how (whether this can work). Because this isn't even a full group yet. To be fair, these departments are probably also amongst the worst off (and biggest), so the rest should be smoother than this.

But, uh, I'm tired, y'all.