Posted in Family, Uncategorized

Waiting

I am not good at waiting. I don’t exist well in “pause”. I expect responses to be prompt and answers to my pleasing – don’t we all. If they aren’t, I have a tendency to badger and push thru until I’ve gotten my way. When my husband and I were discussing getting engaged, he told me that he’d do it in his own time and that each time I “reminded him” he was pushing his timeline back by two weeks. He’ll deny it now, but it happened.

I know badgering is a flaw. I know it shows a lack of maturity, lack of character, and as a woman who attempts to follow Jesus, it shows a serious lack of faith. I also know God is aware of my character flaw because he consistently puts people in my life who force me to abandon my own sense of time- ahem, example one, see above: man I chose to marry who , to this day, will purposefully not be rushed. Rushing him results in an opposite, but equal effect which will make us later than ever. This tendency to love people with no sense of expediency repeats itself ad nauseum and can be seen from my predictably running behind mother, to one of my closest friends from grade school who, while she has gotten so much better, used to drive me insane with her loose use of time to make plans. I love these people. I’ve grown because of them. My mom regularly praises me for my flexibility with waiting now. Waiting, the abuse of time, and I are zen.

Except none of the above growth was about my faith. God decided 2017 was the year I’d get to grow my faith, and he was going to use my most favorite thing to stretch me- waiting.

In January of 2017, I took our son in for his 18 month well check and learned that he’d apparently fallen off the growth charts. My husband and I do not make big babies, so it wasn’t like he had a long way to go, and he’d been in a downward decline for the past nine months, but this drop was significant, more than a few percentiles. Our pediatrician was concerned and suggested we go see a pediatric gastroenterologist at the local Children’s Hospital. Begrudgingly, I agreed. Two weeks later, we sat in the gastro’s office while she explained the same growth charts then she sent us to the lab for 14 tests.           It wasn’t the best day.

Thankfully, all the tests came back normal.

Except one, the alpha 1 antitrypsin test showed that Nolan had excessive protein loss which indicated he had an allergy to dairy protein.   The way this particular food allergy works is not the way a typical allergy operates; for example, Nolan won’t ever swell up and stop breathing if he has ice cream, but if dairy is in his system, his body will act as if he has a severe stomach virus and reject the majority of the nutrients he eats. Which explained why he couldn’t gain weight.Early childhood is one of the fastest, most important stages of human development; the fact that Nolan was labeled Failure to Thrive at 18 months was frightening. We were happy to have the Milk Protein Allergy diagnosis, and quickly adjusted.

In April of 2017, we dropped dairy ,  we because I was and still am nursing.  We attempted to give him the nutritional supplements that his gastroenterologist prescribed, but he refused them. Four weeks after we dropped dairy, we completed follow up testing to verify that his new diet had improved his numbers, but his test results showed he was still losing the highest recordable amount of protein possible (over 1.13) and his fecal calprotein number, which measures inflammation in the gut, was at 587 (normal is below 50).  So despite removing dairy , his numbers remained elevated;  he couldn’t gain weight because his body was continuing to dump his nutrition, and he was in pain. So, because soy protein closely resembles dairy, we cut soy in May at the recommendation of his gastroenterologist.

Soy almost broke me. Cutting dairy is relatively “easy” there are numerous replacements for cow’s milk at a standard grocery, most restaurants readily supply a dairy allergen menu, and as long as you can do without cheese- you can pretty much substitute everything else (side note, coconut milk “Ice cream” far exceeds the cow’s milk variety….). But soy? Soy is in everything. Literally . Go to your kitchen right now, grab five items you bought from the middle aisles of your grocery store and read the ingredients; you are looking for soy or soy oil…. I’ll wait…..  

Canned tuna? …. soy (yup, even the canned , or bagged tuna that is sitting in water. It has soy). Chips? You may get a pass on chips if you were lucky and grabbed one of the few brands that isn’t fried in vegetable oil ; otherwise, soy. Pasta sauce? Soy, unless it’s organic. Bread? Soy, soy, soy.

The soy allergy changed my life.  I spent two hours at the grocery, just reading labels. It took me four phone calls to find a restaurant that would accommodate our diet needs so we could take my mom out for Mother’s day. I got a bread maker for my birthday, and now I make our bread, and hamburger buns, and pizza dough (with non-dairy cheese!) because I didn’t want to spend 7$ a loaf on bread that was soy free at the grocery. The time reading labels was matched by the time on the phone or in front of the gastroenterologist and the nutritionist who both insisted that our son’s diet needed to be 60% supplemental formula ( “Then it’s not a supplement is it?” I snarked at the nutritionist)  that my son refused. Our five year old interrogated anyone who came near Nolan with food, “Does that have soy or dairy?!” I was impressed and saddened by his devotion.

And four weeks later (June), Nolan was still losing just as much protein, but his inflammation had dropped to 347, so he was still in pain- just less. I was crushed . Because if it isn’t a soy or dairy allergy, it’s something else that causes protein loss. Usually something far more complicated. Everything felt so hard and took so much effort. We couldn’t just go to a restaurant or a family function without planning ahead and investigating. But there was good news, he wasn’t losing weight. He was gaining slowly. When he wouldn’t take the supplement, that gastroenterologist repeatedly suggested she’d be forced to insert an NG tube into our son’s nose to force feed him . With support and some anger, I was able to remind the doctor that she wasn’t permitted to do anything to our son without our consent. We were willing to do testing. We weren’t willing to do an NG tube. Our gastroenterologist seemed surprised at my refusal. So I started to look for a new gastro.

Here’s the thing. There was something wrong. Clearly. Numbers showed it. Symptoms showed it. My husband and I didn’t deny that there was a problem. But everything in my body told me we needed more help, more resources, more TIME. That we had to wait.

And in my waiting, God confirmed that he was at work ( because that’s what we expect isn’t it? That the God of the Universe checks in with us. But he does it. Because he knows us, and he loves us. )

When I questioned whether we should move Nolan to a new gastro, I got confirmation from four different places in the same week. And this wasn’t generic confirmation I could have read into. It was four different people, who didn’t know each other saying, “You should look into xx hospital” . My mom witnessed three of those suggestions on the same day. It just happened that was the hospital we were considering. Confirmation.

When I worried about the poor nutrition causing irreparable harm to his developing brain, we had a developmental evaluation completed and he scored above the 95% in all domains.  Confirmation.

When I felt like I’d never be able to participate in social events again because I had no idea how to cook dairy and soy free, our friends and family stepped up and literally brought food to our house, or they went grocery shopping for us and spent time reading labels so we didn’t have to.  Confirmation.

 

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I don’t like waiting. I hate it. It makes me cry and bite my finger nails. But I learned years ago, that the Holy Spirit speaks to me through my intuition.

And everything in me said to wait.

Enter the narrow gate, follow the narrow path, and wait.

I know the allergists say it takes about 4 weeks for the effects of soy and dairy to exit the system.

That’s what our allergist and pediatric gastroenterologist told us too.

And his ped gi wanted to put him on an NG tube because he had slow weight gain.
We refused.

And continued the diet.

And found a new ped gi (who we see in 2 weeks).
And then on July 24th, at a well check, Nolan had gained 5 oz in one month, so I asked his pediatrician to run the tests again, just to see.

20170727_155829This is my beautiful two year old and I today after we found out that his super strict dairy and soy free diet was working.

His protein loss had dropped from greater than 1.13   to .52 and his inflammation was down from 347 to 21. Normal. His numbers were normal.

His body is retaining nutrients and proteins and while it’s not the only answer, we are on the right path.

Maybe the average kid takes four weeks to eliminate the affects of allergen20170731_195907s in their body. Maybe some take less, maybe some- like our son, take more.

Be encouraged. Because God doesn’t move the way we do. And sometimes, He uses things, like the specific  rhythm of a child’s own need, to show us who He is. He’s in the waiting, and he’ll meet us there .

Posted in Family, Uncategorized

My son is not going to play nice on Thanksgiving ( I’m not holding my breath for Christmas either)

 

My boy loves his family. He regularly asks what all six of his grandparents are doing. He wonders where his aunts and uncles are. He asks if his cousin is at school. He knows and loves his family. That aside, I don’t expect much compliance or even agreement to basic social conventions during the coming holidays. Here’s my Thanksgiving predicted play by play.

 

Reasons why our kids don’t play nice during holidays

(or any other high profile, social setting where you’d like to impress everyone with evidence of your parenting skills)

Noon: “Everything is different”

 Hey, what happened to my routines? Where’s my sippy cup? Who is this strange dog in my face? This house doesn’t look like my house. I miss my house. Isn’t this lunch time? Why aren’t we eating? Why is everything wrong?

12:30: “Why can’t I play with these highly, breakable glass figurines that look like cute forest animals?”

 I can touch everything at home- why can’t I explore here? And how am I supposed to get comfortable here if I can’t figure things out? Why are you following me everywhere?

1:00: “Where’s my Mom and Dad?”

This is not my house. There are people I haven’t seen in months reaching for me. I’m wearing scratchy, weird “dress up” clothes. The kitchen is hot. The living room is loud. I am so little. I need my Momma to feel big. I need my Daddy to relax enough to have fun. Why do people keep kissing me? That’s it—now I’m  crying.

1:30: “Grandma, Grandpa! Why can’t we play?”

 Yay, Grandma and Grandpa are here! But why won’t Grandpa chase me like he usually does? Why is he talking to other people? Why isn’t Grandma reading me a book – we always read a book. Hello? I know, if I push over this “don’t touch”, they’ll see me over here…. (crash)… great now we can play, right? Time out?! What just happened?

2:30: “Fine, if I can’t play with the inside plants, where are my toys?”

No, not those toys- the fun toys! I’ll just settle on chasing Grandma’s dog since you didn’t bring the fun toys….. Time out? Again?!

3:00: “I peed”

Since you were so busy talking to the tall people, I decided to help out and take my diaper off for you. I don’t know why you’re upset.

3:30:  “I’m so tired”

 That car nap only lasted the 12 minutes it took to drive between the two families. I’m so tired. Why can’t I sleep? I just want my bed. I’ll settle for my Momma’s shoulder. Please, please let me sleep. Now I’m crying again.

4:30: “What is this food?”

This isn’t my plate. This isn’t normal food. What’s turkey? I don’t like this. Can I have French fries please? And I’ll take a helping of that cake too.

6:00: “No thank you. I don’t want to hug everyone goodbye. I’m done listening to your requests.”

I will wave to you from behind my Mom’s leg. I’ll say bye from the safe harbor of my Grandma’s kitchen table (we are coloring and I’m not stopping now ). Just be happy if I don’t throw myself on the ground to protest any further requests.

7:00: “I want to watch a show!”

Mom, did you know they have a TV here? Daniel Tiger is here, so is Curious George. This is my new favorite place ever- look Grandpa gave me a cookie!

8:00: “Go home? I don’t want to go home. I love it here.”

I just figured this place out. I’ve accepted the rules. I’m comfortable now. I’m not leaving. She has chocolate and stuffed animals. Cozy up to Grandma, Mama- this is our new home.

9:00: “ Fine, I’ll get in the car but..”

I won’t wear a coat. I’ll cry the whole way to the car. I’ll fight you in the car seat. I’m going to rip my socks off. I’ll demand that one of you hold my hand the entire way home. Also, I’m going to fall asleep and you’ll have to deliver me to my bed.

 

If my day goes even a hair more smoothly than this, I’ll feel relaxed. But I doubt it. If I get to carry on an entire conversation with another adult, I’ll be thrilled (bonus points if it’s my mother). I’ll forgive him because I’m pretty sure I acted the same way until I was at least 12. Kids struggle on holidays because they can’t cope like the rest of us do – with alcohol and sarcasm.

Happy Thanksgiving to families everywhere. Here’s to real life, lower expectations, and family who love you even when you aren’t cute.

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Posted in Family, SAHM

Monday, by the numbers

6.5 hours of sleep
2 goodbye kisses ( one for each of us as Daddy left for work)
3 dirty diapers
2 wet diapers
1 successful trip to the potty
3 complete meals prepared
1 dishwasher unloaded
1 dishwasher reloaded
3 loads of laundry

1 change of bed linens
3 changes of clothes (me)
4 changes of clothes ( toddler)
2 episodes of vomit ( one dog, one toddler)
1 bath ( toddler)

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2 snacks
2 rooms vacuumed
1 nap ( toddler)
2 mealtime prayers
16 texts to the husband
4 inside jokes ( with my hubs)
5 inside jokes ( with my mom)
7 trips down the slide ( toddler)
6 books read ( in the hammock)
5 people texted ( me)
14 pictures taken (me)
4 “pictures” taken ( toddler with the Wii controller)
3 sessions of “house” played in the guest room closet
2 sessions of “school bus driver”
4 tantrums ( toddler)
2 cups of coffee
1 workout
1 shower ( me)
3 kids shows
2 phone calls
18 hugs
6 kisses
237 deep breaths ( me)
1 bedtime prayer ( toddler)
1 bedtime ( toddler, took over 75 minutes)
0 minutes of relaxation ( see above , me and hubs)

1 prayer, deeply grateful for a challenging day with people I love more than all the minutes in my life.

Posted in Blogging, Confessions, Family

Gray Brain

I am many things- and all of them are vain. I say this with (little to) no hint of shame or embarrassment. I am a vain, vain woman.

Some evidence to prove my point:

Evidence A: When I was in preterm labor, for 27 hours, I was severely upset that I hadn’t taken the time to wash and blow dry my hair before we left for the hospital. I knew there were going to be hundreds of pictures taken; I also knew I was going to be forever irritated due to my dirty, frizzy hair and un-mascaraed eyes (if “un-mascared” is a new word, I totally claim copy right).

Evidence B: When we had parent- teacher conferences at my school, I completely reapplied my make up between the end of the school day and the start of conferences. Because, I don’t know, what if a parent saw me with less than perfect blush and therefore believed me to be a sub-par English teacher.

Evidence C: I used to pick out my son’s clothes to match mine so we’d look nice in pictures together. Not formal pictures- just every day pictures someone may take on their phone.

Evidence D: Yesterday, I took coffee to one of my dearest friends at her new job. I changed my clothes at least three times before I left the house because I didn’t want her co-workers to think I was sloppy (I don’t even know these people) .

So we all agree, I’m vain. I’m okay with it. It’s who I am . 

Two weeks ago, I found gray hair. I was driving. Just minding my own very important business of singing along to “Cups” while simultaneously wondering if I could ever figure out the cup choreography to accompany myself. I looked into my visor mirror to check out my “Anna Kendrick cool girl” vibe (my visor mirror is always open for two reasons (1) to check in on my toddler in the back seat and (2) to check out my “Anna Kendrick cool girl” vibe, and (c) I’m vain)  when , the sunlight streamed in on my scalp and I saw it-shimmery, light reflecting strands of GRAY hair. What the what? Gray hair is not Anna Kendrick cool! I can’t have gray hair; I’m only 33 years old.   I closed the mirror and changed the radio station to gray haired news. As befitting my aged hair, I forgot about the silver strands shortly after I got out of the car.

News flash: gray hair multiples. The second time -I was in the car again. Driving again. Checking out my “Ingrid Michaelson indie hip” in the visor mirror.  Not indie hip, not cool girl- nope, just a mom driving her kid to a well check. I glared at the sleeping toddler in the back seat-this is your fault, I thought/whispered ( I’m no dummy. You don’t wake up a sleeping toddler for righteous indignation).

Okay. so it’s gray hair. Why? Where did it come from? And then one night when I couldn’t sleep (understand this actually means, one night when I was pinning hair colors and styles on Pinterest…), I wondered if the gray hair could be connected to the parts of my brain that have been over-taxed with life. So I did some research (again, understand this actually means, I searched brain diagram on Pinterest…- which will also explain why I have no sources for my research. If any of my former students are reading, please understand that MLA format has a time and a place. And neither time nor place is in the blog post of a overreacting woman with gray hair.)

And it made sense.  Here’s the diagram I researched (pinned) :

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Most of my gray is in my front hemisphere. Deep analysis revealed the cause of my gray. For the good of science, and all silver foxes everywhere, I’d like to share my results:

gray 2

Empathy and Emotion: The spot right above the eyes, adjacent to the temple. Most of my gray is streaked through here.

Toddlers, at least mine- I’m not an expert on your toddler ( most days, I’m not an expert on mine either), are simply emotion with skin wrapped around it.

When I taught high school, I taught three 8th grade writing classes, I had high school lunch duty, and try as they might- the whole group of those teenagers could not cover the vast expanses of emotion that my two year old goes through in one napless afternoon. I am amazed at the array of feelings that this boy has. Just today (which was for the record, napless), he was beside himself sad because he was “real, real hungry” and he wanted to eat potatoes. This actually worked out because it was dinner time, and we were eating potatoes- but I needed him to wash his hands before dinner. He was Lifetime movie sad; weeping and crying, whimpering “I want tatoes” over and over while wringing his hands. My husband and I just looked at each other. Two days ago, while we were at the zoo, he wanted to offer himself up for adoption because I wanted to buy us ice-cream and he wanted to go see the baby elephant statue that we had already spent twenty minutes with. Yesterday, he randomly jumped in my lap and offered the first, “I love you, mama” of his own volition which came wrapped up in a hug.

Toddlers are emotion. They can’t help it. And that is also why the empathy portion of my brain is gray. As you remember, you can’t successfully rationalize with a toddler. I could have told him that dinner was ready and he was going to be able to eat all the “tatoes” he wanted if he could just move his Tony winning performance into the bathroom and wring his hands under some soap and warm water. I could have explained that we were done with the baby elephant statue because the real elephants stunk and they were all the way in “Asia” and my feet hurt, and also- ice cream is amazing. But none of that would have worked. It wouldn’t have made either of us happier. It wouldn’t have solved the situation.

Instead, I try empathy…

I hugged him and told him I knew he was hungry but we had to get the germs off and I would help him wash his hands. I looked him in the eye and told him that I loved the baby elephant too, but now the baby elephant needed a break, so we were going to get ice cream ( Yes, I lied to my son. But seriously, if you have not yet learned that empathy sometimes involves faking it -aka lying- then I want to come live with you in your land of make believe. Just send your unicorn to pick me up). And yesterday, when he wrapped all 29 pounds of himself around me and oozed all the love in his little boy heart, yesterday all I did was hang on.

Of course I’m graying. I’ve spent the past 31 months trying to transform into the most complicated version of myself I have ever been. And I expect more gray to come.  I’m realizing that I give this little guy a lot more grace than I give to the other, equally important, differently loved people in my life, and that’s not ok. I want to go gray with love for all my people- not just my son.

So, I will vainly go gray out of love.

But you won’t know it because I am going to color all that love out of my hair.

Posted in Family

Feeding a Toddler

Today was my son’s 30 month check up. We were ready; we had filled out the six page (I’m not kidding and I wish I was) survey of his categorized skills ( motor, social, ninja, and other) (also, the fact that I kept track of this packet for SIX months and I filled it out should make me eligible for a cash prize) . We had prepped the boy for his check up, we even brought Baby Monkey along.

And in truth, I was looking forward to the visit; it would be the first time in a long time that we weren’t at the doctor’s office for a high fever calamity of the strep variety, and I was excited to show off my son’s skills ( I had not figured out how to casually work in the boy’s counting ability or letter recognition-but I figured I could improvise) . I see the well checks as a parental grade card. I know that’s not the purpose of them, but the teacher in me needs feed back. And it was going well until we learned that our son had lost two pounds since July.

On a Thursday in late June, Lincoln woke up up with a fever of 103.4 – high, and scary, yes. A new situation, no. Linc has had strep three times in his two years, so when the fever got high and he stopped eating I took him to the pediatrician and they ran the rapid strep test: positive. I requested the antibiotic shot, as we had done before, and we were on our way. I figured he’d feel better by the next morning. Except he didn’t. And he didn’t feel better Saturday either. By Sunday morning, he’d stopped drinking and hadn’t had a wet diaper for 12 hours. After a trip to Children’s Hospital, an IV, and several tests later, we were back home Sunday night. But when Monday rolled around, he still wasn’t drinking. By five o clock Monday afternoon, he was admitted, and we didn’t leave till Friday. Five days in the hospital, two in contact isolation. It took him three days to eat anything, and four days to drink on his own without an IV. In between all that, my poor toddler was poked, evaluated, and quantified nearly every hour. It got so bad that he cried as soon as anyone walked in the door. Even when he started feeling better, he couldn’t get any sleep because of interruptions.  I know how hard that week was on his body and his little heart.

He was dehydrated and exhausted, and that IV mitten was the most pitiful thing.
He was dehydrated and exhausted, and that IV mitten was  pitiful .

So when I found out he’d lost two pounds, my reaction was mixed:

1. I wish he hadn’t lost the weight and 2. I can’t believe he only lost two pounds.

But his doctor, who I like, wasn’t pleased, and now we have to go back for a weight check in two months.And I’m devastated.

This isn’t even a big issue. There are children who have to go to the doctor weekly because they have serious medical problems. But still, I was totally wrapped up in this information.

All I kept thinking about what was else am I supposed to do? I can’t force feed him, I give him quality, nutritious food, he gets vitamins daily… I’m not sure what more can be done. I spent an hour whining on the phone to my Mom and for every suggestion she offered, I felt more and more defeated. When I mentioned it to my husband, he reassured me that Lincoln is hitting all his milestones-we’ll just throw some avocados into his diet. It sounds great; I’m stuck on the weight loss.

But it’s not the weight. Or rather, it’s not JUST the weight: I have to get my own stuff figured out because something like this shouldn’t cause me to question my ability as a parent. Two pounds, 16 ounces does not determine whether he’s a healthy boy or I’m a good mama. He’s going to be fine. He’s had weight issues since he measured in the fifth percentile at birth; we’ve handled it when he’s measuring in the 20th percentile now, and we’ll continue to handle it.

Every day I put all I have into this boy. Even when I’m tired, when I’m sick, when I have no patience, when I have all the patience in the world- this is a 100% job, and it takes its toll. When you give that much of yourself, you eventually end up depleted. And being depleted, I was depending on some applause from the doctor. But that’s not his job. It’s not anyone’s job. And, despite the fact that it sounds like it, I’m not complaining. I love mothering. I love being Lincoln’s mother. But I resent the pressure I’ve accepted and put on myself to do this job perfectly; it can’t be done. We are parenting in a time where motherhood is supposed to be a completely self-aware, spiritual experience. Every interaction is supposed to be a moment, and I’m supposed to be fully in it, while simultaneously having perspective of the moment.  I feel like I’m constantly underachieving because I can’t keep up with the rules : put the kids first vs put your marriage first, free range parenting vs helicopter parenting, stay home vs work, punish vs disciple, vaccinate vs delayed or refused vaccinations, “babies don’t keep” vs washing dishes and clean underwear. And now, I feel like I’ve failed at a basic: feeding my son.

The actual issue is that between Pinterest and parenting experts and “having it all” while doing it all,  we are supposed to be experts with only a few years in on the job. And it’s impossible. No one is an expert after a couple hundred days.I don’t expect myself to be an expert wife or daughter or sister, so why do I think I have to be an expert mama?

To me, “expert” means that I’m doing it right. It means that I have it figured out. There is black and white safety in expertise; there is gray fear in novice. But I can not pretend to be an expert; parenting isn’t black and white. As much as I don’t want it to be, it’s perfectly acceptable to not know, to follow your instincts and not know whether you’re doing the right thing half the time. Parenting is a feeling, a yes or a no that lives in your gut and speaks to your heart. That instinct allows you to flex and bend according to the situation, the day, the hours of sleep, or the force of the wind. As a mother, instinct is synonymous with love and grace and mercy.

Love and grace and mercy aren’t measured in pounds or milestones. Love and grace and mercy are not quantifiable. They are present in the day to day – each time my son throws his food on the floor, I have a choice to focus on the two pounds or the beautiful, button-pushing boy in front of me. With love and grace and mercy, I’ll ignore the pounds and see my son.