Tag Archives: child

Excuse Me, My Crack is Showing

There was this art project that I used to love to do as a kid: we would take an egg and make a tiny little hole in each end with a pin. Then we would blow through one end, and all the raw egg inside would come shooting out. Once you got all those pesky insides out, you would have a perfect eggshell to decorate. It would be fragile, of course. But unlike a regular egg that would eventually fester and rot, the eggshell could last forever if treated carefully. The idea is so simple: remove the parts that can go bad, and the shell will endure. It is preservation at its finest.  But, I never really appreciated the idea of preservation. When I was a kid, I just liked blowing out all the disgusting raw egg into my friends’ faces… and by “when I was a kid” I mean yesterday.

When my baby boy was three months old, I mentioned to my pediatrician that he had a slightly odd birthmark on his back.  It was something my husband and I had noticed about him from the day he was born.  It was tiny and hidden right above his butt crack, a place no one would but a parent would ever examine closely enough to notice. I didn’t mention it to my doctor until my son was three months old because it seemed innocent enough: a cute little birthmark. The human body is an amazing thing though, and sometimes these innocent little markings are warnings of something much more nefarious.

My doctor told me it was probably nothing, but we should get it checked out to make sure. She told me that I shouldn’t lose any sleep over it.  But of course, I lost sleep over it. A lot of sleep. Luckily I had a toddler and a three-month-old baby, so I wasn’t sleeping much anyway.

After an ultra-sound, an MRI and a few meetings with a neurosurgeon, we discovered that my son had something called a tethered spinal cord, and would need surgery to correct it. A tethered cord is a birth defect, where the spinal cord is literally tethered down by something (in this case a fatty growth called a lypoma) so that it cannot hang freely as it normally would, and instead stretches and pulls, damaging the big bundle of nerves that make up the spinal cord. That big bundle of nerves is tied to many different things: legs, feet, bladder, bowels, and brain to name a few. If not corrected, it can cause any assortment of developmental and physical difficulties. In addition, that innocent-looking birthmark was actually a tract that ran directly from the spinal cord to the outside of his back. So that cute little marking actually put him at risk for meningitis and other infections. Scary right? You don’t know the half of it. At least, I hope you never do.

Before Jan 13th, I didn’t know the half of it either. But on that day, the day of my baby’s three-month doctor appointment, and the months that followed, I learned what scary really meant. And it wasn’t just sleep I lost over those months, it was everything. Sadness, guilt, anger, and THE FEAR plagued me every minute of every day. My perfect baby was not perfect. My sweet little boy would have to undergo surgery and so much more. And there were so many unanswered questions, so much we wouldn’t know until it was possibly too late. How could I sleep? How could I think of everything else?!

There was a brief moment of each day that I forgot THE FEAR: each morning when I woke up and scooped my delicious bundle out of his bassinet and looked into his smiling face, I got at least two minutes of unadulterated joy. Two whole minutes of staring at his perfect face. Of breathing in his sweet smell. Two luscious minutes of reveling in the perfection of him before – BAM!!! – my memory, and with it THE FEAR, would return with such force that it took my breath away. Every. Single. Day.

So, I couldn’t sleep at night. I would spend hours crying during the day. I couldn’t play with my wonderful daughter, or even enjoy the sweet miracle that was my baby son. All I had was my sadness, my guilt, my anger and THE FEAR. I was drowning in them all. So I did what I had to do to endure. I made myself stop crying. I made myself stop thinking and stop feeling. I removed everything inside me that was festering and rotting, and I became a shell – fragile yet enduring. It was self-preservation at its finest.

The problem with hollowing yourself out like that, is that you cannot choose what stays and what goes. You cannot remove the sadness without removing the joy. You cannot remove THE FEAR while leaving the hope. So I became an empty. I went about my daily life, of course. I did what needed to be done.  I took my daughter to school and to dance class. I took my son to his doctor’s appointments. I made dinner, I fed my children. I sometimes fed myself. I even went out with friends. I laughed at their jokes. I drank too much wine. From the outside, everything looked normal. But on the inside, I was empty.

Slowly but surely, though, little cracks began to show. Maybe not big enough for everyone to see, especially because I was master at painting myself up to look the same as I was before. I began to hide out to protect myself. I shut out most of my friends, because I didn’t want to take a chance of having to talk about what I was feeling. I picked fights with my husband about anything other than what I was really upset about. I stopped writing. I quit doing anything that would force me to be honest about myself, because I felt like if I was honest, then my cracks would spread and I would break into a million pieces. I thought that if I really started crying that I would never stop. And mommies can’t do that.

But I endured. My son had his surgery almost two months ago, and he is doing great. Kids are amazing in their resilience. His scar, that takes up almost half of his back, is quickly fading. But somehow, my scars are still angry and raw. I thought that once the surgery was done and life went back to normal, the FEAR would go away and that I would go back to normal too. But I guess once you empty yourself out like that, it’s hard to fill yourself back up. I guess once THE FEAR finds you, it’s really hard to ever chase it away.

I am trying. I am trying to be brave enough to let go of THE FEAR. I am trying to be brave enough to allow myself to be filled with emotions, both good and bad. The strange thing is that I cry now more than I ever did. But I smile more too. I am repairing my cracks, little by little. I think the first step is to let my cracks show, and to realize that admitting that you are broken doesn’t mean that you can’t be put back together.

egg

 

photo credit: katerha via photopin cc

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Soak It In

I’m writing this post from my phone. Typing on the little tiny screen with one hand. My left hand.  My right hand is immovable and my right arm is falling asleep. My right boob is out. It is dripping milk and the milk is running down my side. And I can’t wipe it. And still I type. Why? Because I want to remember this. And I want you to, too. (except for maybe the part about my right boob.)

I just finished nursing my little boy and now he is asleep, splayed out on my chest like a rag doll.  My first thought was, “He’s sleeping!! Put him down and go work/launder/clean/pack/shower/eat/caffeinate while you can!”  I have a freelance job and a lot of work to do before we leave tomorrow for vacation. Oh yeah, and we leave tomorrow for vacation, which means I have three people to wash clothes, pack and stress out for. I am busy. Really busy.

But outside it is raining and cold.  And I am warm.  And I have one of the great loves of my life asleep on my chest. And it is peaceful. And good. And so I reminded myself to take this moment to soak it in. Yes, I am busy. I am always busy. But he is not busy. He has nothing he would rather do than lay on my chest and snuggle. And it won’t last long. Soon he WILL be busy. Most of the time, he will be too busy for me. And the sad part is that is precisely when I will stop being so busy. And I will spend my newly acquired freetime dreaming of the days that he snuggled on my chest like a warm piece of heaven. So for now, I will soak it in. I will be busy later.

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Signs You Have A Toddler

Toddler

You can’t remember what color your floor is under all the Cheerios, goldfish crackers, smushed peas and other various discarded food products.

You have heard the word “NO!” more frequently than any other word in the English language.

You have said the word “NO!” more frequently than any other word in the English language.

You cannot remember the last time you laughed so hard.

You have more conversations about “the potty” than you ever thought possible.

You are ready for bed long before your toddler is.

Your definition of “dirty” has changed dramatically.

You know who Dora, Peppa Pig, Thomas the Train and Yo Gabba Gabba are.

You have miniature toilets and other potty paraphernalia scattered around your house in places you would have deemed disgusting and inappropriate pre-toddler.

You find yourself doing a million of the things that you would have judged someone else for doing pre-toddler.

You find yourself sounding more and more like your mother.

You can’t remember the last time you used the bathroom alone.

If you are a man, you have taken more groan-inducing hits to your junk than an episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

You have been forced to abort your shopping mission and flee to your car due to a total meltdown… by toddler and/or yourself.

You know all the words to “Wheels on the Bus”… not to mention hand-motions.

You spend 50% of the time wondering how you got so lucky, and the other 50% wondering why you are being punished.

You are crazy enough to think about doing it all again…

photo credit: Ben McLeod via photopin cc

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Cover Your Tiny Ears, Fetus

Check out my latest post on my new site:  goodbadsaggy.com and try not to judge me. ; )

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7 Deadly Parenting Sins

Check out my new posts on my blog GoodBadSaggy.com, including today’s post on the 7 Deadly Parenting Sins.  And please sign up there to keep receiving my blog as soon as I will be shutting this site down.  Thank you and cheers to “bad parenting”!

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Sleeping Like A Baby

Whoever made up the phrase "sleep like a baby" obviously never had one!

Whoever made up the phrase “sleep like a baby” obviously never had one!

Sometimes I get insomnia. I have always had trouble sleeping, even as a kid, although back then my insomnia dressed itself up as an imaginary friend who would keep me up at nights, pacing around my room and asking tough questions like, “What do you think happens when you die?” and, “Why does Santa hide all the Christmas presents in your parents’ closet?” I guess I had more of an imaginary Barbara Walters. Anyway, the point is that I have always had trouble sleeping, but it has only gotten worse as time goes on. I guess because as I got older, I discovered more things to worry about. (Though I am still up most nights trying to figure out why Santa hid all the Christmas presents in my parents closet!)

Then once I had a child, a solid night of sleep became a distant memory. Now there are numerous lists to make, hundreds of things to prepare for, and gazillions of irrational fears to worry about. It is a wonder that I am not a total zombie. However if you are reading this and there is something that I forgot to do for you or there is something that I did to otherwise piss you off… it’s because I am a zombie.

The past week or so, I have had another bout of insomnia. I either go to bed early, hoping to catch up a bit on sleep, or I stay up late, afraid to even try to fall asleep. Either way, the result is the same:  toss and turn for a few hours, move to the couch, toss and turn, move to the guest bedroom, toss and turn, until finally I drift off into a fitful sleep a few hours before it is time to wake up.  Last night I tried the stay-up late technique. Instead I watched The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Bad idea. You should never watch anything so frightening before trying to sleep. Finally I crawled into bed, exhausted, only to spend another couple of hours tossing and turning, before finally managing to fall asleep around 2:15 am.

Then my daughter woke up crying at 2:30 am.

My daughter is a pretty good sleeper. If she wakes up in the middle of the night, normally all it takes is a little pat on the back and kiss on the forehead, and she is back to dreamland and I am back to sleep and/or tossing/turning/worrying. Last night, however, I gave her a pat and a kiss and then stumbled back to bed, but she did not fall blissfully back to sleep. Instead she cried until I went back into her room. After trying this a few more times with the same result, I decided that perhaps she had insomnia too. I hope that she never has insomnia the way that I do, but sometimes it amazes me how in sync the two of us can be. So, I covered myself up with her little quilt and laid down next to her crib.

She would close her eyes for a few minutes, then peek her head up to make sure that I was still there, smiling at me before putting her head down again. After a while I saw a sweet, chubby, little hand poke through the bars of her crib. So I took it. We held hands like that until she finally drifted off to sleep. And then, amazingly, I did too. I slept for an hour there. The most solid hour of sleep that I have had all week, right there on the cold, hard floor, with my daughter’s soft, warm hand in mine. I finally woke up and went back to my bed. Of course I had a hard time falling asleep again, but this time because I was happy, not worried or stressed.  And I woke up this morning tired, but with a new clarity.

I think that this is exactly what parenting is all about:  Holding your little one’s hands, and then only later realizing that maybe it is they who were really holding your hand.
photo credit: thejbird via photopin cc

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A Siren’s Tale

The other day my daughter, Lyla, and I were at Starbucks fueling my caffeine and sugar addictions, when suddenly Lyla starts pointing out the window and saying, “Mama! Mama!” She was so excited, but for the life of me I could not figure out what she was pointing at. She’s only 18 months old, so often our communication is akin to platform flip-flops: confusing at best.

First I tried the “What do you see out there?” tactic. Airplane? – No.  Doggie? – No. Homeless person pushing a shopping cart that you think has a baby inside? – No, No, No!  So I switched tactics.  Perhaps she is wondering where her dad is.  Sometimes she gets our names confused. And in her defense, I had just finished working out and was sweaty and more than a little manly looking. So I said, “No honey, Mama is right here.  Papi is at work, but we will see him later tonight.”  She looked at me like I was an idiot (is it possible to be embarrassed in front of your one-year-old?) and began pointing even more emphatically out the window. “Mama! Mama!”

Lyla was starting to get frustrated, and I was starting to get desperate.  So I picked her up and walked to the window saying, “Show me what you are talking about, honey.” But when we got to the window, instead of pointing outside, she began pointing to the Starbucks logo on the window.  “Mama!” she said with a smile.  For a moment I looked between the logo and my daughter in pure puzzlement.  Yes, I do drink enough coffee for her to equate me with the beverage, however, usually it is not from Starbucks.  “Mama!”  she said again, pointing at the logo then stroking my hair.  I had never really looked at the logo before, so I studied it for a minute.  Suddenly it hit me, she thinks the logo is a picture of me.  So I said, “Oh!  This looks like me?  This looks like mama?”  And she smiled like the sun and said, “Yeah!” so happy that I had finally stopped being a total idiot and understood what she was trying to tell me.

It’s actually not a bad compliment.  The Starbucks logo is based on a 16th century Norse woodcut of a mermaid or Siren to go with Seattle’s nautical roots.  (I looked this up, I don’t actually know this much useless Starbucks information.  Just other kinds of useless information.)  Starbucks chick is kind of a babe. This is solid proof that to your children, you are the most beautiful woman in the world.  So I was happy. However, I think my daughter will be sorely disappointed that I am not actually Mrs. Starbucks when she is filling out those loan applications for college.  Maybe I will just tell her that I drank away our fortune.

 

Have you ever noticed what a babe the Starbucks chick is?

Does Starbucks owe me image royalties? Or at least free coffee?

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Update: Sick No More (but still sick of sickness)

I just wanted to let you all know that Lyla is recovered and seems to be back to normal…well,  as normal as a one-year-old can be.  Mostly I wanted to thank you all for your concern, well-wishes, thoughts and messages, as well as the sharing of your own personal stories, experiences and worries.  It meant a lot and reading them helped me get through a LONG week.

But Lyla is recovered and back to confusing and terrifying me in new ways and I am done stressing about this illness… and on to stressing about everything else.

Thank You!

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Random Thought: The Truth About Parenting

Since becoming a parent 16 months ago, I have done many things that I thought I would NEVER do.  I have nonchalantly wiped my daughter’s poop from my forehead, licked a kleenex and then used it to wipe her face, picked up a cracker that she threw on the floor and then gave it back to her to eat (hey, it was the last one!), let her run around with a watermelon-stained shirt for hours because I was too tired to change it and knew it would only get dirty again, and let myself run around in a vomit-stained shirt for hours because I was too tired to change it and knew it would only get dirty again… just to name a few NEVERs.

Although I have learned to never say never, the truth is that before becoming a parent, I have never been so tired.  I have never been so ungroomed, disorganized, forgetful, weepy, or tired… did I mention tired?  I have never gone so long without seeing or at least talking to many of my friends.  I have never gone so long without seeing an adult-sized human.  I have never gone so long without getting my hair highlighted, shaving my legs, putting on make-up or even showering.  I have never gone so long while sleeping so little.  That is the truth.

But I have never, ever laughed so much, loved so hard, or felt so happy.  And somehow (in a way that I think you have to be a parent to understand) this love and laughter far outweighs a little vomit and sleep deprivation.

The truth about parenting is that it is a math equation that doesn’t add up, but somehow works anyway.

Laughter… a serious side-effect of parenting.

photo credit: Loyal O.A.K. via photo pin cc

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