Friday, November 30, 2007

Still No Freaking News

Our investigator didn't call our lawyer or return his messages (or mine, but she never returns mine), so we still have no idea what happened with the expert decision. She doesn't work on Mondays, but our lawyer is going to call her supervisor Monday morning to try to see what's going on.

I asked him about the 60-day limit for the investigation and he said that's just a DCFS internal regulation and they can grant themselves extensions if they want. That was depressing news. I still think we're done cooperating on Tuesday- at least as far as the Safety Plan goes. For that to be a problem they'd have to decide to indicate, decide to file a petition in court, and the ASA would have to decide to take the case. I just really don't think those things will happen at this point (and neither does our lawyer), especially since the Safety Plan actually expired two weeks ago and no one did anything about it. The ASA would consider the strength of DCFS's case against us as well as the agency's actions during the past 60 days- I don't think any attorney would be eager to defend a child abuse indication against us to a judge. But I hate taking any risks with them. Maybe that's why they take protective custody right away- after that parents are too scared to push them on anything. I put up with our investigator not calling us and taking forever to do anything because I'm terrified of her supervisor. I don't call often because I don't want to make anyone not like me. This is ridiculous, and I know it, but the part of me that knows we were lucky to get Landon back so early doesn't know what else to do. Yeah there's rules they're supposed to follow and yeah we don't have to agree to a lot of the things they "suggest", but you have your kid taken from you and see how much you protest the restrictions they put on you when you get him back. I'll probably be mad at myself later for letting them steamroll me, but in the moment, it hasn't felt like pushing back was a good idea.

So, we have nothing but continued doubt, worry, and horrible memories. It would be really nice to have a resolution so I can focus on things like finals, Christmas, and my family.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

No News

As you probably guessed by the lack of a late afternoon update, there's no news. Our investigator didn't answer the phone or return our lawyer's messages, so we don't know what the higher-up's decision was. Maybe tomorrow?

I am letting myself be cautiously optimistic again. Our lawyer, who isn't exactly an optimist and who works solely on DCFS matters, feels that it's incredibly unlikely a court petition would be filed against us even if we're indicated (which would almost have to happen if Dr. K is the expert for our case). He doesn't believe a state's attorney would accept the case. The fact that they didn't take the protective custody case to a judge over 6 weeks ago, that 60 days have gone by without DCFS action and no changes with Landon, that our Safety Plan actually expired 2 weeks ago* and DCFS has made no effort to renew it, and that we were allowed to leave the state without any proof whatsoever that we went to Texas or stayed with my parents when we were there, all add up to make it very difficult for anyone to argue that Landon is in imminent danger and must be protected by the state.

I wonder if our investigator's goal all along was to let the 60 days just expire. I'm really hoping we're not worth the effort of getting an extension (although I'm not sure how much effort it takes)- according to Rule 300.110 it doesn't seem like our case would qualify for one, but the rules haven't appeared to matter a whole lot. At least by trying to get our expert approved over their own contracted doctor it looks like she's trying to avoid indicating (and her supervisor is letting her try not to)- it would have been easy enough under Dr. K's opinion. So our worst case scenario keeps looking a little less awful. We'd have to appeal, we'd have to deal with some monitoring and maybe a parenting class, but the thought of them taking Landon away again no longer keeps me up at night (although the memory of them doing so still does). Hopefully we'll hear something tomorrow.

* The last Safety Plan we signed expired on Oct. 16th. I thought maybe they let the lapse occur while we were away for Thanksgiving, but we've been back for a week and no one's mentioned it. We still have someone staying with us out of an abundance of caution- as long as we've gone through this much hassle for this long, we might as well be covered through the 60 days. But after that we're done. No more Safety Plans. We're going to be ALONE in our apartment for the first time in two months. JP and I are greatly looking forward to it.

Le Baptism

Because I can't really focus on International Law while waiting for our lawyer to call with the results of the DCFS expert determination, I thought I'd post a picture of the baptismal outfit. As I wrote earlier, we weren't sure we'd be able to fly to Houston, so I never bought anything for the baptism. Landon was supposed to wear JP's baptismal suit, but his head and belly were too big. His godmother offered to buy him one and this was the adorable result:

He also had white knee socks and little white sneakers, but all the pictures on Sunday feature JP and I too prominently to post them. This picture was taken Wednesday when he was modeling the different options. Thank goodness he seems to really like having clothes put on him- there was a lot of pulling stuff over the head going on that day!

The baptism itself was really wonderful. It was performed by the same Pastor who baptized a few of my cousins, confirmed me and my siblings, and married JP and I. Landon was perfect during the church service right up to the point we had to come up to the front for the ceremony. He then decided he was starving and proceeded to tell the entire congregation about it. Luckily, the water that was eventually poured over the top of his head distracted him from his hunger and he gave everyone a giant smile. He's totally going to be a swimmer- he loves water. He listened carefully to the children's message (we were in the front pew, so he was able to see all the little kids up close- he was probably relieved to discover he wasn't the only mini person in the world) and never made a peep during the sermon.

I realized how much I've missed my old church. We've been bad about finding one here in Chicago. This is partly because I was spoiled by my amazing church back home which my family has attended since it was founded in the commons area of a local middle school. It's Lutheran, but a very contemporary Lutheran (the church "band" has electric guitars and a drummer) and I haven't found anything that fits me nearly as well. The other reason (or excuse) is that 1L was so demanding I didn't really have time and now we're just in the habit of sleeping in on Sunday morning. JP grew up Catholic and attended Catholic school until college. He's not particularly religious, so he's fine with us not being Catholic or raising our kids in the Catholic church, but he's also not going to be the one out finding an alternative. Once we get to Austin I really want to try harder to find a church home. I think it's important for kids and I miss it for myself. Some of my best friends today were in my Sunday School classes back in elementary school and I loved the Sunday morning church routine growing up (if we got up for the 8am service, that routine involved donuts). Beyond the spiritual aspect, it's also just the best way to meet other young families and offers an amazing support system for whatever life throws at you. And life can throw some pretty crazy stuff.

Exams, Round 7

Yesterday was the last class of my last Fall quarter. I'm a little sad- I feel like I've completely missed it. I'm only in two classes, one of which is a seminar where our final is to be treated by our professor to brunch at The Peninsula hotel tomorrow. So I'm not too worried about that one. My other class, International Law, has a real final in 8 days. I haven't read for this class since October 3rd, the night before all this drama started. I did make myself attend, so I have pretty good notes- even if I have no idea what they mean. For the first time this quarter I am in the library. I'm surrounded by my casebook, course packet, printed-out class notes, laptop, and a big cup of tea. I am ready to begin acting like a real law student and trying to care about this exam.

And the person in the library carrel next to me is snoring. Rather loudly. If this was JP at night I'd be hitting him in the arm, ordering him to wake up, informing him of the offensive snoring, and then making him roll over. (Yes, I could just make him roll over without the waking, but I feel he should be aware that I'm not sleeping). However, I don't know this person, so I'm pretty sure I can't hit him in the arm. Argh! Snoring has got to be one of the most grating noises in the world. Maybe I'll take an early lunch and when I return, he'll be up from his nap.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

And The Fear Is Back

It's amazing how quickly I can be reduced to a shaking, fearful mess by DCFS. I've been feeling better, stronger, and more like myself over the past few weeks, but one little phone call from our lawyer with an update and- BAM, my hands are shaking and my stomach is churning.

The mythical higher-up from Springfield finally visited the Chicago office to decide who the expert is for our case. She was reviewing our file when it was discovered that DCFS had lost several crucial documents from our expert, Dr. B. He was called and immediately faxed over the missing items, but the higher-up had already left. She's returning tomorrow to finish up and make a decision. The fact that it's requiring two days and this much thought scares the hell out of me. I should be indignant and amazed that it would be this hard to choose between a pediatric orthopedic surgeon board certified in 1985 who can read and interpret his own x-rays vs. a general pediatrician certified in 2006 with no training in radiology or orthopedics. But this type of absurdity seems to abound in DCFS. Our investigator made it seem like this would just be a rubber stamp, but now I'm scared again. Dr. K's report says Landon's injuries were absolutely child abuse with no room for anything but an indicated finding. If she's the expert we'll probably find ourselves back at court and possibility fighting for custody. The supervisor already agreed to follow Dr. B's opinion and decided Landon's injuries were accidentally done by us or incidental to childbirth. How can we take steps backward? How can anyone possibly think Dr. K is more specialized than Dr. B? Why would it be this hard to make a decision?

Our investigator is supposed to call tomorrow with the results of the expert decision. Once that is done, a determination on the outcome of the investigation should follow quickly.

I cannot wait until my emotional well being is out of the control of DCFS.
-----------
Addition at 6:51 PM: I now feel much more calm. Any time a decision has been made quickly, it's been against us. If the higher-up had been done after an hour, I'm certain it would have been because she decided to go with their contracted doctor (Dr. K). By waiting for additional documents from Dr. B that shows she's really considering him. I'm still not happy about the fact it's taking real consideration when her approval was described as a rubber-stamp like requirement, but I'm not despairing. Yet.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day 53

We are now on Day 53 of the "investigation." I spoke with our investigator last Tuesday (I waited to call until we were safely on Texas territory) and here's the latest:

She and her (evil, heartless) supervisor have read our pediatric orthopedist's and concluded that (1) JP and I are the "perpetrators" of whatever happened to Landon, and (2) whatever happened to Landon was not child abuse, but rather an incidental/accidental event. This is very good- the child abuse part of our investigation has been dropped. However, the evil, heartless supervisor apparently really wants to nail us on something. She wants us to be indicated for neglect because the fractures were old and we didn't know about them. Never mind the fact we took him to FOUR doctors, all of whom brushed off our concerns about the popping noise in his ribs, and that our insistence on a chest x-ray is what started this whole nightmare. Our investigator openly said, "my supervisor and I aren't on the same page." She said under the DCFS guidelines (which she reminded me I could look up online) to indicate on neglect there must be "willful and blatant disregard for child's health and safety". She said herself that all the doctor's appointments make that impossible. She said having our lawyer call and mention this to her supervisor would probably help. She also emailed her supervisor while I was on the phone to remind her that their 60 day investigation deadline is up on Dec. 4th and that's not very far away. She's still hopeful we'll be unfounded- that her supervisor is just making one last stand that has very little change of sticking. She did say that even if her supervisor indicates us she just wants us to take a parenting class and this will all end- that no one is talking about custody or petitioning in court any more. I reminded our investigator that we will absolutely appeal any indicated finding- even if all the indication means is a parenting class. For one, there's just the absurdity of having been indicated for child neglect, but that also stays on our record for 20 years and if JP ever wanted to coach, or if another child of ours was hurt, that indication could haunt us.

Overall I think the conversation was good. Our investigator was very apologetic- she said several times that this case should be over, that there's nothing left do on it, and it's just about making a decision. Our expert has STILL not been approved by that mythical higher-up in the Springfield office, but I asked our investigator what the chance was that he wouldn't be approved and she said "not much." It looks like we're just waiting for another rubber stamp. (I still don't really understand the role of this person in Springfield, but our lawyer is calling today to inquire further). On our end, we're still living with a safety person even though the last Safety Plan we signed ended on Oct. 16th. We decided (with advice from our lawyer) that since we've gone out of our way to cooperate so far, we might as well cover ourselves through the 60 days. We don't want to give anyone a reason to think Landon isn't safe. JP's parents are covering us through the deadline of Dec. 4th. Of course DCFS can get a 30-day extension, but I'm desperately hoping they won't bother with that. There is nothing left to be done and at some point we're going to refuse to sign another Safety Plan and see if they really want to take us to court.

So we continue to wait for official news of anything. If I let myself think about what this child abuse witch hunt has cost us so far I get so angry I can't function. This is our last week of fall classes- I only had 8 days this quarter as a regular law student. I haven't read since this started, I dropped half my classes, and I have no idea how I will take my final in a little over a week. My blog should have been filled with trivial posts about Landon, law school, Chicago, family, and fun. We're trying to get him to sleep through the night (no, he's still not doing it, all this has been hell on any schedule we have tried to create for him) and that's worth a few posts alone. I feel like I've lost 2 months with my son- between the NICU and this ordeal we've had fewer days caring for him alone as parents than the weeks he's been cared for along with others. I'm scared to fully trust that the child abuse allegations are off the table and I'm scared of how much longer this can go on. I hope it's only seven more days, but I'm rarely correct when making DCFS predictions.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Of Friends and Family

The Original Perfect Post Awards

We're back in the Windy City, with JP's dad present as Safety Person (a post on the continued absurdity and an investigation update is forthcoming). The trip to Texas was wonderful. I've never cried when leaving to return to Chicago- I love this city and it is our home now, but I cried yesterday. For six days I was able to let go of some of the stress and tension surrounding us in Illinois. The investigation was never far from my mind, but for the first time in a long time, it wasn't at the forefront. Landon met his aunt and uncle for the first time, JP and I drank a lot of properly blended frozen margaritas, my baby brother showed off what he's learned in two months of college by schooling us in beer pong, and we all got to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends.

I had hoped that this nightmare would be over by Thanksgiving- I had an image of us sitting around my grandparent's table in Texas thanking God that our lives were finally moving on. Obviously, that didn't happen; however, I found myself filled with thankfulness anyway for the amazing people in my life. This post isn't about how the hard times make you realize the importance of family and friends- I already knew that. It's an acknowledgement of how much their love and support can shine through your darkest times.

We moved to Illinois two years ago without knowing a single person in the state, but when a doctor's visit turned into a nightmare, our Chicago support system materialized. Friends visited us in the hospital with treats and distractions. A friend researched lawyers for us and called to fill them in on the background so that when I called on Friday, barely coherent after DCFS had taken Landon, they already knew my story. When Landon was released from the shelter, I had five local volunteers to be safety people. A friend slept on the floor of my living room for four days, under the threat of a psychotic cat, while we waited for my dad to be approved. Friends instituted a daily delivery of meals, and even coordinated to make sure we didn't have too much of one style food. I've gotten notes for missed classes and received incredible support from the professors and administration at the law school. I've had classmates I barely know donate money, ask how I'm doing, and send emails with support and research. People far away have made a daily difference as well. Friends of my parents donated money, sent emails, prayed, spread the word, wrote character letters for the hearing, offered to fly up as safety persons, and even made care packages for my mom and dad with meals, gift cards, and a day of a cleaning service. Family donated, prayed, cried, loved, and offered to do anything they could to help. My aunt left her family and moved in with us for two weeks. People I've never met sent legal and medical research, donated money, prayed, and sent emails of outrage, ideas for help, and support. No one who knew us doubted us, and so many of those we've never met joined in indignation. People have commented on how strong I've been during this, and I have been. But I think any mother be would when the options are: (a) break down and risk losing your child or (b) press on and do everything in your power to have him restored to you. So while the strength came from within, the ability to focus solely on Landon- to not spent hours sifting through google search results, legal cases, and doctors names, to ignore grocery lists and our dwindling bank account- that came from you all and I am deeply, immeasurably thankful for it.

At Landon's baptism yesterday I kept crying. Sitting in the church we've attended since the 80's, that my family helped build, that JP and I were married in, was very emotional. Old friends from my church youth group, whom I've known since elementary school but haven't seen in years, heard about the investigation and the baptism and came to the service to show their support. We had a few family members and five pews of family friends at the church. Landon has no idea how much love and support surrounded him, but someday we'll tell him. I believe very much in the importance of family, but I also believe that friends can be the family you make for yourself (yes, I just quoted Sex and the City in an emotional post that keeps making me cry in the law library). Without our friends- local, faraway, known, and unknown- this ordeal would have been crippling.

So to those of you who recognize yourselves in the descriptions above, thank you. To those of you who donated, thank you. To those of you who sent emails, thank you. To those of you who defended me in my own comments and elsewhere, thank you. To those of you I don't even know about, but who prayed for and thought about us, thank you. I don't think I believe that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, or even that God does everything for a reason, but I do believe that something good can come out of anything- even if the good sometimes seems small in the midst of the bad. You all are my good.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Margaritaville

I adore margaritas. Actually, I adore tequila, and margaritas are a convenient way of delivering it. JP's birthday was largely overshadowed by the fact that we had just gotten Landon home from the shelter and were terrified of what else DCFS may do to us. Our lives may still be in DCFS's oh so incompetent hands, but my parents sent JP and I out for a belated birthday celebration tonight while they babysat. We went to a very delicious Mexican place where our bar bill far exceeded our food bill- in the words of my grandpa, "that's a successful evening out!". JP and I were able to dress up, drink, flirt, eat, talk, and drink a little more. And because you can't go anywhere in my hometown without running into at least 3 people you know, I ran into seven at the restaurant. It was wonderful to see familiar, caring, and supportive faces. It was a great night for us.

The day was good too. Mom and I left the boys at home and went shopping. We had a terribly successful Marshalls trip- terrible as in, we found way too many "so perfect I had to buy them" items. I found not one, but two, dresses to wear on Sunday, a gorgeous pair of black leather boots that mom bought me as a Christmas present, a super cute sweater, and a pair of black pinstriped capris that I can wear to work (my new test for whether or not I can buy a new piece of clothing: can I wear it to work?). The marvelous thing about Marshalls is the capris were Limited, fit perfectly, and only cost $14.99. The two dresses were over $100 regular price, around $60 Marshall's price, and on clearance for less than $40. I love that store. Someday when I'm a lawyer and not a student living off loans, I wonder if I'll stop shopping at places like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Ross. I kind of hope not- I get beautiful clothes for amazing prices. But shopping there takes time and patience- two things I may have in short supply as a BigLaw working mom. We'll see. I hope I never think $200 is an acceptable amount to spend on a single piece of clothing. Landon's godmother brought over an adorable Christening outfit complete with white knee socks and shoes, so we're all set for Sunday. Our family portraits turned out great yesterday. We spent way too much- they must love the new parents that come in with their babies. The little guy totally hammed it up for the camera. He finds flashes hilarious, so there were some good smiles.

Well, I think I've managed to type a coherent blog post after drinking two giant top shelf margaritas and while watching Die Hard 4. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Home

Our flight was delayed by three hours, Landon didn't sleep At All, and we ended up with nine pieces of luggage (not counting Landon himself), but we're here! While the little guy did not have any interest in sleeping at the airport or on the plane, he behaved pretty well. We had two seats in the bulkhead and the woman next to me was very nice about Landon occasionally squirming his way into her personal space. It was about a million degrees on the plane, which made having a furnace of a baby in your lap for over 2 hours all that much more fun, but we survived. Landon cried a few times, but there were other kids making more noise than him so I don't think we weren't the most hated parents on the trip. He's now asleep upstairs with my old monitor beside him. I'm pretty sure that chunky old Fisher Price model one works better than the fancy one JP and I have now.

It's so nice being home. We moved to this house from L.A. in 1988 a few weeks before my little brother was born. I was 5 and almost all my memories were made here. It will be devastating when my parents move someday. Getting married, moving across the country, and starting my own family haven't changed the wonderful feeling of "coming home" that I get when we pull in the driveway.

Texas Bound

I don't think I've ever looked forward to heading down to Texas more. It's like a sanctuary from our DCFS-ridden lives in Chicago. I was up late last night packing- it's a whole new ballgame now that we have Landon along for the trip. There's bottles, wash cloths, bibs, blanket, toys, and clothes to think about. His outfit selection process was much more involved than my own. He has so many cute things and we're planning to have family portraits done tomorrow morning at a place recommended by a commenter, so I had to figure out our casual and holiday ensembles. Very tricky- you want to blend together without being too matchy-matchy. JP couldn't understand the dilemma and suggested outfits that would have clashed horribly. Packing for me is always tough because I have way too many shoes, necklaces, earrings, etc. It's very hard to only pack one pair of black heels for 4 different outfits when I have others that would be even more perfect for certain tops, but I sacrificed for the suitcase space. Another layer of difficulty was added by my lack of a baptism outfit. Mom and I looked as hard as we could, but it's impossible to find a young-looking, church appropriate dress right now. It's either holiday cocktail dresses or super matronly shapeless ones. I'm 24, not the grandmother of the bride. So we're going to look in Texas- but this means I need to bring a few extra pairs of shoes and some jewelry just in case I find something that doesn't match the shoes I brought. Do you see the challenge?!

Anyway, all that is left to do is arrange our carry-ons. Our carry-on list includes: Landon, his gate-checked car seat and stroller, my purse, his diaper bag, and another bag with my laptop, JP's magazines, Landon's extra clothes, and extra tops for JP and I. It almost seemed excessive until I realized that if Landon were to spit up or have an explosive diaper, the ejected materials would be all over us and we (and whoever gets stuck next to us) will be very grateful for the change of clothing. I'm hoping Landon will sleep on the plane, but he's been doing this thing where he screams and cries right before falling asleep. I'm sure the other passengers could do without that little routine (as could we). Oh, well, we'll do our best. We have the bulkhead, it's only a 2.5 hour flight, and Landon is so cute maybe people won't send too many evil glares our way.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Baby Milestone: Starting Solids!

Tonight was the night to attempt spoon feeding with rice cereal.
Landon was ready to go.

He took to it better than expected.



Mmmmm tasty!

Everyday Things

I keep writing about the investigation- and it's definitely the biggest thing in our lives- but there's so many every day things that are missing in my posts. So I'm going to ignore the whole "my child was taken by DCFS and we still don't know what's happening with our case" thing and share a few of the more superficial but happy things that I would have been blogging about during the past month and a half.

Like despite the fact that the gym regime I started on Sept 24th came to a screeching halt on October 4th, I fit into my smallest pre-pregnancy jeans (that didn't actually fit before I was pregnant) about a month ago. Very exciting. My stomach is still not the same, but the 4's fit and I'm quite happy about that. I can finally reclaim my wardrobe- which all feels very new after not wearing it for a year.

JP got an interview for UT's MBA program- even more exciting! He's meeting with an alum in Chicago for the interview and then we're hoping to hear back from the school before the end of the year. The application process was very stressful (applying to b-school is way more involved than law school where you can send the same personal statement and rec letters to everyone) and we're all hoping to get good news soon.

Landon just rolled over this morning- and he did it in both directions! The pediatrician gave us a soft scolding for not giving him more tummy time. With all the doting visitors we've had staying with us lately, he's been held 90% of the day. We're supposed to encourage a little more independent time. Mom put him on his tummy this morning and he just flipped himself over! He looked quite surprised by the new view and then gave me a big smile. He's such a cutie.

We've called the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania to get a second opinion for him. The unexplained rib fractures, cyst on his eyebrow, reflux, prematurity, breathing trouble, etc. all make it seem like something else could be going on. Our pediatrician said, "I just can't shake the feeling that we're missing something with him." I think it will be good to have an entirely new doctor (who is one of the best in the US for pediatric bone disease) review his medical records and examine him. We'll be in DC for a few days in December for JP's holiday party, so Landon and I can head over to Philadelphia during JP's day of meetings. One of the many reasons I want this investigation to end (I know, I said I wouldn't talk about it in this post) is so that we can finally put all our emotional, physical, and financial resources into figuring out what's going on with Landon rather than defending ourselves. OK, back to superficial...

Mom, Landon, and I are about to go downtown for some shopping. We need to get Landon a baptismal outfit (he's being baptized the Sunday after Thanksgiving in the church JP and I got married in) and a dress for his mommy to wear. I had previously been afraid to shop in case we weren't allowed to go and now there isn't much time. Landon was supposed to wear JP's baptismal outfit, but his head is so big we couldn't get it on. I don't think there would have been room for The Belly either. Too bad because JP's little white suit was adorable and had obvious sentimental value. Oh well, just gives me an excuse to buy him something new. I love shopping for baby clothes- they're so inexpensive compared to big people clothes, I don't have to try them on, and he doesn't protest my selections like his dad does. Such an agreeable fellow.

Friday, November 16, 2007

What Investigation?

I promised an investigation update, but unfortunately there isn't much to say. After being promised that we would have an answer last week, absolutely nothing has happened. This mysterious person in Southern Illinois who has to approve new experts is still unreachable (how can anyone be in the office and unreachable for 2 weeks?), so DCFS still doesn't know who their expert is for our case. We're not pushing it because we are still very much hoping that Dr. B will be the expert and we know that it would be much easier for them to designate the evil Dr. K (thus ensuring an indicated report).

We did receive Dr. B's final orthopedic report and it's as favorable to us as it can possibly be with the facts at hand. He included a few articles about the lack of research done on rib fractures outside of child abuse, the presence of other injuries in abused children, and diagrams showing that abusive rib fractures are predominantly posterior and Landon's are not. If anything can make us unfounded, that report will. It took three days for Dr. B to get in contact with our investigator, but she finally had the report in hand on Thursday afternoon. Our lawyer has also been calling her, but all he learned from their conversation is that DCFS is "still trying to figure out who [our] expert is" - which is what they were trying to do three weeks ago. This is really starting to get ridiculous. They've been "investigating" since October 4th, but not one thing has been done. We've seen our investigator once since picking Landon up from the shelter- she's supposed to be monitoring us weekly and observing our interactions with "the minor". We also haven't seen the case manager since we met him two weeks ago, and he's supposed to be visiting weekly too. It's not that I want to see any of these people, but if they insist on us flying people from all over the country to stay with us and continuing this "investigation" it would be nice if someone besides us did something. There is nothing in their file that wasn't there at the hearing on October 16th.

We're flying to Houston for a week on Monday. We'll get to relax, eat a big Thanksgiving meal at my grandparent's house, go to my parent's lake house, and get Landon baptized. It will be wonderful to get the hell out of DCFS territory for a few days. I'm thrilled we get to go visit, but it seems odd that DCFS would think a Safety Plan is so important and then let us just leave the state with Landon for seven days. Requiring us to have someone stay with us when we get back just seems silly, but I suppose that makes sense in the bizarre world we're living in right now. I hate that this still isn't any closer to a conclusion. Luckily they only get 60 days to investigate and Dec. 4th is fast approaching.

In other news, I took my car in to get the shocks replaced and found out it needed $1500 worth of work done. Immediately. Apparently some ball-tire-thing had worn off completely and it wasn't even safe to drive. Also, the winter quarter seminar lottery results were posted today and I didn't get in to a single one. I've always gotten my top choice, so to not get into any of my top three was crazy (although oddly fitting). And to think I had such hope for the month of November.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

4 Months!

Landon is 4 months old today. Mom (new Safety Person, she flew in this morning before dad flew out) and I took Landon to the pediatrician for his check-up. He received 4 shots, which made him Very Angry, and some new stats:
  • Length: 24.5 inches, 25th percentile
  • Weight: 15.5 lbs, 50th percentile
  • Head: can't remember the measurement, 75th percentile
So we have a short, slightly pudgy baby with a large head. The perfect proportions for cuteness! I love that his head waited until after he was born to move up percentiles. At delivery it was only in the 25th percentile (thank god), but now, I'm sure due to JP reading Landon the Economist and Newsweek each night, it's gone way up!

Landon seemed to be retracting a little when he breathed laying down so the pediatrician gave us a prescription for an inhaler. She said to wait to fill it if he starts coughing along with the retracting, but labored breathing is why he was in the NICU so it's definitely something she wants us to keep an eye on. In other prescription news, we're going to try a few days without the reflux medications. I've forgotten his Prevacid the last two days and he's done well (he still drinks formula thickened with rice, and that was the change that helped him the most). The doctor said that reflux often starts resolving itself around 4 months, so it's a good time to test how much he needs the meds. We also got some more proof that Landon is a medical mystery in a very cute package. He has had a bump on his eyebrow bone for about three months. At first it was quite small, firm, and not at all tender, so we just thought it was a little cyst that would resolve itself. The pediatrician didn't even notice it at his 2-month check-up and I forgot to ask. (I did ask about it several times in the hospital, but since it was unrelated to the alleged child-abuse injuries, no one was interested in solving the problem.) The bump must have gotten bigger because she noticed it immediately this time and was somewhat concerned. She is going to refer us to a plastic surgeon to have it removed (more hospital time for the little guy) and then sent to pathology. I don't think she thinks it's serious, but she definitely wants it out- soon.

Solids (well, semi-solids) are going to be a new addition to Landon's life. He adjusted fine to the thickened formula, so rice cereal shouldn't be a problem for his tummy. Eating it off a spoon may be a challenge, but it should be good for a few pictures. He did great during the whole check-up and was very flirty with his doctor. He now loves being naked and gives you big smiles the whole time his clothes are off- I think his giant belly likes to be free. The pediatrician was dismayed, though not surprised, to hear we are still in the midst of this investigation (update on that coming tomorrow- no real news, just more frustration). It's been a crazy four months- parenthood has definitely taken me in directions I never previously imagined- but Landon is the light of our lives and hopefully this dark cloud will pass soon(ish).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Dad: Working Mother

My dad flew in over the weekend to be our new Safety Person (airplane ticket costs to date: $2100). He planned to work half days while at home with Landon. I had a few doubts, but when dad was here a month ago Landon still slept most of the day and he was confident the little guy would cooperate.

On Monday, dad had a business lunch planned for noon followed by an international conference call at 2. Landon, of course, would be attending both. I dressed him in a snazzy outfit for the lunch and sent an email later in the day asking how things had gone. Here's my dad's reply:

Lunch was great. Landon was perfect. We then tried to have a conf call where I was being interviewed. Went fine for awhile then Landon spit up on me so I quit the call.

I burst out laughing in the green lounge when I read that.

Then yesterday I checked in to see how things were going before my 11:00 class. Our e-mail conversation:

Me, 10:40am: I'll leave right after my class ends at 12:05 to be home for lunch. It's a pretty day and we can walk to get pizza.

Dad 10:42am: Excellent. I just accidentally ate all of the crunchy carmel things and a few chocolate cashews.

Me, 10:45am: Hahaha- eat some of the leftover real food. Anything is better than chocolate cashews at 10:45...

Dad, 10:46am: Big poop gotta go

I crack up every time I read that last email. I picture my harried father, juggling a baby, munching on rice cakes, and trying to answer emails. He might as well be wearing a terry-cloth robe with curlers in his hair. Today, dad had another conference call scheduled, and here's how that went (Landon was dubbed "Cheeto" by him this morning. Not sure where it came from, but it's sticking for now):

Soon as call started Cheeto started to fuss. His annoyance built until interrupted by a big poop! With that accomplished and he had fresh diaper he was only happy if I was carrying him and walking him from mirror to mirror. He then ate some and then cried and finally when call was over at 10:50 he fell asleep. Cheeto is not business friendly!

Apparently Landon/Cheeto slept for several hours after the conference call was over and behaved perfectly for the rest of the day. Now my dad knows some of the challenges of the working mom- especially the work-from-home mom (Shelley, I thought of you). He's a good sport though, and a great grandpa, and he's even figured out a new way to make Landon stop crying: carry a crying Landon over to our hallway mirror, wait, and after about 15 seconds he'll start giggling at the silly baby in the mirror with the red face and tears. It's foolproof- except he doesn't think the happy baby is as funny as the crying baby, so unfortunately the fix doesn't last very long.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tagging After All

After saying I wasn't going to tag people on the "7 Things" meme, I've decided to do so after all. Being tagged makes me feel special, so if the request to fill out the meme makes you feel anything other than that, please disregard it.

First, a few of the many new blogs I've found through the comments on my Nightmare posts:

1. Nini at Dear Diary, to distract her while researching renter's rights
2. Denora, because she already took the initiative
3. Someone Being Me, because it turns out we share a baptismal link
4. el-e-e, to help her out during NaBloPoMo

And a few people I've read for a long time:

5. Magic Cookie, because she's having blogger's block and maybe this will help
6. Citations, because I always enjoy what she writes
7. Transmogriflaw, because she was the first blog I ever read and her archives helped me survive two quarters of crim law

So, enjoy! I found it surprisingly difficult to think of 7 random things about myself- although, I just thought of a #8, which I'll put down as a bonus since I didn't follow the meme properly the first time around.

8. I always pronounce "photographer" "photo-grapher" in my head (and occasionally out loud). It's a complete mental block and no amount of knowing the correct way to say the word fixes the problem. Because I was a fast reader as a kid, I read far beyond my actual grade level. This meant I was introduced to words in books long before I was introduced to them in speech- there are many, many words I said wrong in my head for years before learning the proper pronunciation. Photographer just seems to be the only one I can't mentally correct.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Where Is The Good?

I started the "7 Things" post yesterday, but with my friend staying over as interim safety person, my dad's arrival, making dinner, watching Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters, winning at Scrabble, and admiring Landon, the day just slipped away. At the time I thought I had nothing new to write (or complain) about, but this week has already handed me some blogging fodder.

I got our Verizon bill for the past month- $615.60. Damn. I knew we were making a lot of phone calls to lawyers, doctors, family, and friends, but... damn. That's a lot. I've called them to see if there's anything they can do to help us, and they reduced the charges by $100 and added 500 bonus minutes to each of our lines this month (which is good because we'll probably go over again). Normally I'm good about monitoring our balance and we've never even been close to our 700 minute limit (calls to each other are free and that's 90% of what our phones are used for), but this past month there was no time to do anything that didn't involve Landon or DCFS. If you add that to our mounting costs, these false child abuse allegations have now cost us over $6,000. And we have no idea if it's going to be over soon.

We had Landon tested for OI (osteogenesis imperfecta) while he was in the hospital. The geneticist didn't think he had it, but the doctors wanted it for his file. Since then DCFS has decided it needs to be a part of their file too and the investigation will not close until we have the results- which we were supposed to get today. JP called the lab and they said they were having a hard time reading the results and it would be another two weeks. CAN ANYONE DO ANYTHING ON TIME? We're going to ask our investigator if they can just operate under the assumption that the test is negative. Everyone expects a negative result anyway and a positive one will mean the investigation ends immediately. But logic has not worked well so far, so I doubt they'll agree to our suggestion- it looks like this will last at least until after Thanksgiving.

We spoke with a top plaintiff's firm to see if we can do anything about DCFS taking Landon against their own policies. The alleged perpetrator(s) must be unable to be removed from the home and DCFS has to have considered other options. My mom was sitting right there, already approved by DCFS and ready to take Landon, and JP and I were willing to move out and live with friends or get her a separate apartment. Turns out there's a statute that gives DCFS basically blanket protection to do anything- and Dr. K, as a doctor contracted by DCFS, has the same protection. They can wrongly take your child and there's nothing you can do about it.

I said early last week that I needed the investigation to end. It didn't and I'm hurting. Last night when we were in bed, I suddenly remembered handing Landon over to the case manager so he could be taken to the shelter and I started crying for the first time since that Friday over 4 weeks ago. Even if the investigation had ended last week, we are so far from done dealing with the effects of it. The fact that it's still ongoing and that things could get worse... well, it's not good.

7 Things

Elizabeth and Moo tagged me and I can't think of anything to write except what you've already heard 100 times before: I hate being in limbo, I hate what's happened to our little family, and I hate that I don't even feel enough emotion to be upset about it. So, how about 7 Things?

Here's the meme info:
- Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
- Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. 7 is my favorite number and 21 is my second favorite number. For some reason I have always loved the fact that 3 x 7 = 21. It just seemed like a surprising multiplication fact when I learned it.

2. I am an obsessive researcher. It now makes me uncomfortable to have to go to a restaurant before I can look up the reviews and menu online. I hate it when hotel websites don't have pictures of the rooms. I wonder what it was like when you couldn't learn every detail about destination before you went- I don't think I'd like it.

3. I adore lists. I frequently do something and then write it down just so I can cross it off. I bought a palm pilot when they first came out, but I abandoned it after a few weeks- checking a box just wasn't as satisfying as crossing something off. On a related note, I also get great pleasure from crossing out a day when it's over and this is why I still use a planner instead of Outlook or Google calendar.

4. I was the fastest woman ever to swim across the Hudson River in 2000. I was a senior in high school and flew to New York with my best friend to swim the "Race for MS" across a 3-mile section of the Hudson. It was freezing, long, and a little scary (although I did have a kayaker next to me). I placed third overall, first for the women, and broke the previous record. I was interviewed by Meredith Viera and I think I was on TV somewhere. The day after the race my friend and I toured NYC. I still have my ticket for the top of the World Trade Center- it was Sept 11, 2000.

5. I grew up taking camping trips with my family and definitely want to do the same with my kids. It's the best kind of family time and a wonderful way to see the country.

6. Because of the camping, we almost never flew in airplanes or stayed in hotels. Now, even after years of frequent flying, I still get excited to fly on a plane and dress up for the ride. I feel the same way about hotels.

7. I am terrified of moths and have no idea why. I've had nightmares where one landed on me while I was sleeping and I spend the whole night tensed and too scared to move. I wake up sore and realize there was never a moth in the room at all.

This was a hard meme, it's must easier to answer questions. It took me two days to think of 7 things to write about myself- odd since I post nearly every day and the posts are filled with things about me. I don't think I'll tag anyone specifically, but if you want to do it- or you need to distraction from law school and/or life- please do!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Even More Delays

We finally reached our investigator today. There's no way the investigation will be wrapped up this week and I seriously doubt it will be next week. I swear I'm going to take my finals still wondering if my child will be taken from me again. It turns out there's someone in the Southern Illinois DCFS office who has to approve new experts and that person has been unreachable all week (hmm, now our investigator knows how frustrating that is). Our investigator never mentioned this little hurdle last Friday and I can't understand why the approval process wasn't put in motion weeks ago. It just sounded like her supervisor had to agree that Dr. B was our expert and it was done- and why does he have to be approved by someone so high up? He's a board certified pediatric orthopedist with lots of credentials to his name. If Dr. K can be approved, he certainly should be. Our investigator didn't think she'd hear from the higher-up tomorrow or Tuesday because Monday is a holiday (apparently they usually take off days before and after a holiday), so we're looking at Wednesday as the absolute earliest. My aunt (who is the person who finally reached our investigator) asked what we should do about her flight leaving on Saturday- and reminded our investigator that she had reassured us Saturday would be more than enough time. The investigator apologized but said that we still need to stay under the safety plan- it sounded like she vastly preferred my aunt to stay here (and she needs to get home to her own family) but it would be acceptable if my parents came back. She said it was in Landon's best interest that caretakers not come and go. Umm, it's in my son's best interest to NOT BE TAKEN TO A SHELTER when his grandma was sitting right there. They don't get to play the "Landon's best interest" card.

She still sounded like the investigation was going to wrap up in our favor and she's just waiting for things to be approved and reports to be filed. However, she did throw in the conversation that Dr. B could not be approved and then Dr. K would be the expert. That would guarantee that we're indicated and this nightmare would be very far from over. I HATE how up in the air things remain. There are so many decisions to be made by people who don't know us. I feel like this has gone on for months- knowing it's going to be at least another week is incredibly depressing. Speaking of that, it's not in Landon's best interest to have a depressed mother and DCFS is certainly making sure he does.

So we don't know if Dr. B is an expert, we don't know if they'll follow his recommendation that Landon's breaks were not caused by abuse, we don't know when he'll be approved, we don't know when they'll make a decision as to indicate or unfound us, and we don't know what an indication would mean. We have to fly my dad back up to Chicago (and last minute plane tickets are so inexpensive) and spend yet another week with our family hanging in the balance. Every time we go a few days without contact from DCFS and I start feeling just a little normal again, I get smacked down and reminded that my life could change again in a second.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Waiting, with an egg on top

Still waiting for news. Our investigator doesn't work Mondays so the orthopedist was supposed to speak with her yesterday. He tried, but couldn't reach her and is trying again today. I'm starting to think we won't hear anything again this week. If they don't talk until this afternoon or tomorrow there's no way a final determination will be made by the end of the day Friday, they just don't move that fast. Unless it was bad news. I think they could make a bad decision pretty quickly.

[Summary of the long rant I decided not to subject you to: It's absurd that we may go yet another week without knowing the result of this "investigation" and that we still can't relax and can't move on. Also, my aunt has to go home on Saturday. DCFS promised that changing her flight for the second time, to saturday morning, would be safe because a determination would be made. We'll have to interrupt another person's life, fly them up, and live another week under supervision. ARGH! Now, moving on...]

Last night my aunt, Landon, and I went back to our favorite restaurant in Wicker Park- Francesca's Forno. It has an amazing special on Tuesday nights: 3 courses for $21. You can pick any appetizer or salad, any entree (including specials), and any dessert all off the regular menu. My meal should have totaled $34, but it was just $21. The special encourages me to try to riskier, more expensive items. Like my salad. It was field greens, freshly grilled asparagus, lemon vinaigrette, white truffle oil, and, get this, a fried egg on top. You cut it open and the yolk became part of the dressing. It was one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. I'm now convinced that anything can be improved by adding a fried egg. Even salad.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Couldn't Help It

I know I've already posted pictures, but this one makes me laugh every time I look at it. A lobster clutching a blankey and eating his own leg- it kills me. I want to drive home, scoop him up, and hug him tight.

Limbo

Waiting has never taken this much out of me. I've had to wait for other big decisions: college admissions, scholarships, and law school acceptances. And I've had to wait for enormously anticipated events: our wedding, the last day of 1L year, and Landon's due date. But I've always been able to push the eagerness and anxiety aside and live life during the countdown. Now I'm barely going through the motions as we wait for our case decision to come down later this week. This kind of waiting is exhausting- it takes actual energy. Energy to hold myself back from being too hopeful and energy to not feel completely hopeless. I have no emotion left. I should feel furious, wronged, or at least inconvenienced; instead I just feel overwhelmed with the thought of any result other than an unfounded one. It's hard to feel much of anything at all- even the fear is muted. A friend got fantastic news last week and I was really happy for her, but it was hard to express it. It wasn't because it can be hard to be happy for someone when your life sucks, I just couldn't muster the emotional energy required to show happiness. The only time I can break free from this emotional lethargy is when I'm with Landon- his complete delight when looking at his mobile, a clock, a picture of a baby, or one of us just cracks me up.

So we continue to wait. Our investigator doesn't work on Mondays so she'll probably get the medical report tomorrow, and then she'll have to meet with her supervisors and whoever else is involved in this decision. I'm hoping to hear something Thursday. Believing the case will be dropped is the only thing getting me through this week; I truly cannot fathom living next week under an indicated decision. It's now been 32 days since this nightmare began and it's taking everything I have to get myself through the next four.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

BLEAH

The MPRE was not good.

Last night was not good either. At 10:30pm I panicked about my lack of a passport sized photo. I printed out my firm mug shot from the summer, but then I noticed the admission ticket said: "photocopies of photographs will not be accepted." Well, what does that mean?! It's not a copy, it's color, and it's clear, but it's not glossy. I decided if I was going to drag my ass out of bed in the morning I was not going to be turned away because of my lack of a glossy picture. I googled "MPRE photo" and a post from Ms. JD came to the rescue. It pointed me to a site called www.epassportphoto.com where you upload a picture of yourself and the site creates a 4x6 picture with six 2x2 inch passport photos. You can download the image, send it to www.walgreens.com, and pick it up 1 hour later for 21 cents. So I got home from Walgreens around 11 and decided I needed to read all 150 pages of the bar/bri MPRE book. I finished that around 1:30am. Landon woke up a little after 2 and then every few hours after that. Luckily JP got up with him, but in a 2-bedroom apartment, we're all up with him in spirit. When my alarm went off this morning I don't think I've ever felt so tired. I took the el downtown, read my outline on the way, and sat down at my desk ready to consider this a practice for the March exam.

And I think it might have been. It's not that the test is hard, it's just bad. There were so many questions where I could have written in the rule of professional conduct that governed the fact pattern, but none of the choices seemed to fit. In at least 40 of the 60 questions I narrowed it down to 2 (and sometimes even 3) answers that I absolutely could not choose between- and sometimes they were very different answers. My multiple choice testing skills were useless. I actually counted up all the A's, B's, C's, and D's at the end and tried to even things out a little with the few I just couldn't pick answers for. I was so exhausted I got up twice just to walk around and run my hands under cold water. "Bleah" pretty well sums up the experience.

So we'll see. It's quite possible that I passed and it's quite possible that I didn't- it depends how many I guessed right after narrowing it down. I did laugh when I heard someone checking in to the test before me say to his friend, "Dude, you have no idea how tired I am." No, you really don't.

Friday, November 2, 2007

MPRE madness

The MPRE is in 12 hours. I have a screaming, teething baby and a bit of stress in my life due to a month-long, emotionally exhausting child abuse investigation.

I was never particularly worried about the MPRE, but it does seem like even the biggest slacker manages to read through an outline. Right now, I still have not read the outline or done a practice exam. I couldn't sleep last night (or really any night since Oct. 4th) and I just want to take a bath and go to bed. I know Landon will be up multiple times tonight because of his teeth- and his general refusal to go more than 4 hours without wanting to party with everyone in the apartment- so I hope I can force myself out of bed in time for the exam. Attendance rather than preparedness seems to be my goal for tomorrow.

I really hope I pass. I liked the comment on the last post about how the second most ethical answer is always the right one on the MPRE. I think I'll put that theory to the test.

(Very) Cautiously Optimistic

Well, we had our meeting this morning at the apartment. We met our case manager from "in tact family services"- he seems competent and nice, a welcome change from the last DCFS person to come to our apartment on a Friday morning with our investigator (the evil/harsh supervisor). He said we are being referred to a parenting class and will have weekly surprise visits from him for 45 days and then we will move to bimonthly visits. The visits are just to check on us and Landon and make sure nothing new is going on. Once the parenting class is over, he thinks our file will be closed. After hearing all this the investigator again said that if our case is "unfounded" then everything is completely dropped and we don't need to complete the parenting classes or have any visits. So I'm still not quite sure why all that is starting up a few days before she thinks the investigation will end, but I guess this is just the way things work. She also reiterated the importance of the pediatric orthopedist's opinion (I think I called him "Dr. B" earlier) and that if he says something definitive about why this is not abuse, the saga will end early next week. It also did not sound like we will have any sort of Safety Plan even if things continue with the parenting classes and weekly monitoring after an indicated finding. However, she again mentioned the possibility of going back to court and taking protective custody again. That seemed so at odds with what both of them were saying that I think it would only happen if Dr. B's opinion said we were child abusers after all.

So right now it looks like if his report can make DCFS feel comfortable saying that whatever happened to Landon was not abuse, then we'll be done with this next week. If his report is a little more open ended (not that it was abuse but that he can't say well enough what it was to rule that out) then it seems like the worst case scenario is we have some visits, attend a parenting class, and this drags out for another couple months. We did ask about Thanksgiving and our case manager didn't think there was any reason we couldn't travel to see family (although he has to ask his supervisor b/c that issue had never come up before). That was a big relief and something I was previously afraid to even ask. However, we're not celebrating until we see Dr. B's report. We're also still waiting on the OI test- we're supposed to get results Nov. 12 and our investigator thought the file would probably remain open until we get that result. But she still felt my aunt could go home next Friday, so I guess it means the file will remain open but we won't need a safety plan after Dr. B's opinion. But once again, I'm always hesitant to predict anything when DCFS is involved.

I'm now off to a coffee shop to open my MPRE book for the first time. Right now my plan is to rely on the multiple-choice test-taking skills that I honed in High School. The test is tomorrow morning and afterward we're all hitting up the Lincoln Park Zoo to show Landon some animals (not that he's ever noticed Lilly the cat in our apartment) and eat a Chicago hot dog. Might as well show my aunt a bit of fun as long as she's stuck here with us and take our minds off the constant waiting to hear news.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Not Much of an Update

I know many of you are eager for news, but unfortunately I don't have much to tell you. Our appointment with the orthopedist wasn't over until almost 6pm so nothing happened with DCFS today. The orthopedist said the ribs are healing up nicely- that in a few weeks you wouldn't even know there was a break, but they're still almost impossible to date. He still absolutely believes whatever happened to cause the fractures wasn't abuse. The placement of the breaks (not posterior- this seems to be very important), the lack of bruising, the frequent doctors visits, etc. all point to some other cause- unfortunately we have no idea what that is. We kept asking what could possibly have caused these fractures- even if abuse was possible. It just doesn't make sense that a baby could have trauma sufficient to break normal ribs but not break a blood vessel to cause a bruise. He also never had a time where he was tender under his arms where the breaks were. None of it makes any sense. The doctor seemed like he might be thinking of something, but said he needed to do some research first. He's planning to call our investigator tomorrow with a preliminary report.

Back to the investigator- she did finally call me yesterday on our way back from the Halloween lobster fest. She said that we're being assigned a case manager who would be responsible for the at-home visits (we still haven't had one yet) and that she was looking in to parenting classes for us. I was confused as we wouldn't need either of those things unless the case was indicated- something we're still hoping won't happen. She then asked when my aunt was leaving. I told her Monday because we were hoping to have news of where this was going this week. The investigator asked if my aunt could stay through next Friday- that things would be "resolved" then. She didn't mention a need to have anyone else lined up to fly here after that. She said that the majority of DCFS team is willing to consider our orthopedist their expert rather than Dr. K (this is Huge, she's their contracted doctor, but I think she's making DCFS mad by refusing to budge on a case they don't feel is worth their time). They're all just waiting on the orthopedist's report before making a decision. She said she still "hopes" our case will be unfounded, but indication is a possibility- and she didn't really clarify what an indication would mean. She's coming by tomorrow morning at 9am with our new case manager. I'm having horrible flashbacks to the last time she came to our apartment with another person on a Friday morning.

So I'm not sure what to think. I don't understand the talk of parenting classes and a case manager when she talks about things being "resolved" and my aunt going home at the same time. I still feel incredibly unsettled and nervous. If we are indicated it's hard to believe they'll go back to the ASA to question custody because they don't have any more evidence than they did the last time they approached her and she didn't take the case. But I'm trying not to take anything for granted.

In other news, I think Landon is teething. It's kind of early, but he's drooling up a storm, is fussy for no reason, and has swollen lower gums with what looks like two white mounds underneath. The poor kid can't catch a break- we finally get the reflux under control and he has to hurt again. My aunt is holding him right now and he looks exhausted but he can't quite settle. I kind of know how he feels.

Landon the Lobster

I haven't been able to go through all the pictures, but I had to post a few:




Making a lobster look this adorable is exhausting.