survivingmyboyz

tales from a stay-at-home mom of four boys

Archive for the tag “life”

Mom, her four boys, and the heinous, horrible, no good, very bad day

Of course there is poop on your shorts. Somehow, magically, there is poop on your shorts in my freshly cleaned bathroom, even though you are nearly 7 and haven’t had an accident of any sort in about 4 years. That’s just the kind of day I’m having. The kind of day where everything goes wrong from the moment you wake up. The kind of day in which you question why you had kids, let alone four of them. The kind of day you just want to be over, but everyone refuses to go to sleep despite being beyond tired. The kind of day you want to forget, but feel compelled to write about.

The heinousness of this day had been foreshadowing for at least two days prior to its arrival. That’s not to say that the two days leading up to it were anywhere near as heinous as today was, but it was definitely a “well, what did you expect?! You should have known this was going to happen!” kind of day. I had set my alarm earlish this morning, but it was a rare morning in which the kids didn’t actually both me for the hour leading up to my alarm and I was enjoying a blissful dream in which I had a totally different life, one way less stressful and kidcentric, one in which I actually got to make decisions for myself and eat warm meals. Apparently, immersed in this blissful dream, I’d managed to hit my snooze button not once, but twice, waking me 20 minutes later than I’d planned. I came downstairs to find the mess of toys I’d been yelling about needing to be picked up for two days now, still all over the floor. The boys were in different stages of undress and completely engrossed in a show that had more time left to it than we could sit in watch. They ignored me as I gave them the same two commands over and over while trying to get breakfast made for the four of them (despite the fact that two of them are perfectly capable of making their own). After about the 30th time of being ignored, I flipped the TV off and gave them the same two commands another 30 times. No one was listening and I felt like I was a ghost in the room that they couldn’t see or hear. I had a 10:30 class at the gym this morning and I’d missed every class I tried to get to so far this week because of the kids and last week we were on vacation, so I missed the gym completely, I wasn’t going to miss class today even if I had to leave to kids home to fend for themselves (okay, fine, I couldn’t do that, I’m pretty sure it isn’t legal).  We had about 30 minutes to get those who weren’t dressed yet dressed, brush everyone’s teeth, get the toys picked up enough for the cleaners to come today (yes I have cleaners, I couldn’t possibly keep up with the disastrous mess my four boys make all on my own. Don’t judge!), get four kids and myself fed, load the car for the day, and get out the door. This would be doable if my kids didn’t sabotage my efforts at every turn. There was the kid who didn’t like the breakfast he asked for and wanted something new, that same kid also peed on his shirt while going to the bathroom (personally I’ve never had that problem, but somehow it happened) ,the kid who kept returning to the trampoline to bounce after each toy he picked up, the kid who couldn’t tie his shoes, but wouldn’t wear his flip flops, and the kid who spilled his bag of Kix all over the carpet in front of the door just as I was about to walk out it.

Fortunately, we made it to the gym and I managed to get everyone into day care so that I was only 2 minutes late for class and there was still room in the corner for me to squeeze into class. I thought maybe this meant that my day was going to turn around, but boy was I wrong. After the gym, we had some time to kill before it was our time to swim at the pool. I needed to get the boys lunch, which you’d think would be a nice thing that they’d appreciate, but instead they just whined and complained because two of them wanted Panda Express and two of them wanted Taco Time. I took them to a local sandwich shop I’d been wanting to try. They all whined and complained that they wanted brownies and cookies and chocolate milk. Then the oldest messed with everything he could get his hands on to make a mess while my youngest darted for the open door and attempted to kill himself in the parking lot. We sat outside to eat where it was “too sunny,” “too windy,” and “too cold.” My youngest tried to kill himself in the parking lot again while the older ones chased him and encouraged him to run to his death. There were also food issues, crow issues, and sticky issues. I should’ve just loaded them in the van and taken them home right then, but no, I was determined to make this a better day.

So, stupid me, I took them back to the gym after lunch to get bands so we could swim. I’ve been promising to take them swimming at the gym for two months and we hadn’t gone yet, so today as going to be the day. We had a half hour to kill, so I brought mad libs to do with the boys, only I didn’t have a sharpened pencil with me. So the boys entertained themselves by running around like idiots, climbing on things, and the youngest tried to go up the stairs every time I looked away. When it was finally our time to swim, I told everyone to go to the bathroom before going to the pool. My four year old refused because he had gone after lunch. My two year old attempted to flush himself down the handicap toilet after escaping under the door of the stall I was in. I took the two older boys to do their deep water test so they could go down the water slide and play in the more fun section of the pool. Unfortunately, they wanted to boys to swim a lot further than their swim instructor had made them, so they couldn’t pass the test. I was then informed that you are only allowed to have two kids per adult that are “non-swimmers” and since my older two boys couldn’t pass the test, they really weren’t supposed to let us in the pool (despite the fact that both older boys could touch in all parts of the pool and were going to be required to wear life jackets too – I think it is a racket to get people to sign up for more swim lessons). I must have given her a “you’ve got to be shitting me!” look, so she allowed us to do it just this once, but we had to stay in the toddler section of the pool. Well that went over like a ton of bricks with my older boys who have been eyeing the water slide for two months now. I was instructed to stay within arms-reach of all four boys at all times while in the pool. Let me tell you how easy that wasn’t, especially since I only have two arms. It didn’t help that we had just returned from vacation where the two older boys swam all around the pool at the hotel and went down the waterslide without me needing for be arms-length away. Even my four year old was swimming all around the pool with his life jacket by the end of the trip. So these restrictions naturally lead my oldest to melt down and cry, partly out of frustration and partly out of embarrassment that they didn’t think he was as good a swimmer as we knew him to be (I’m sure he felt disappointed after working so hard at his swim lessons the beginning of the summer too). While he melted down, my two year old decided that he wanted to jump in unassisted, and my four year old decided that he suddenly needed to poop…NOW! I had to get all four boys out of the pool, but couldn’t convince the two older ones to come into the bathroom with me so I told them to wait outside the bathroom and not to go near the water. Of course, none of this was quick enough and my four year old and he crapped himself just before I could get him on the toilet. Luckily, my boys have a fear of wearing swim suits without underwear, so all the crap landed in his underwear, not his bathing suit, so I just threw them out. As I dealt with that crappy situation, my two year old decided that it would be fun to play with the soap dispenser in the bathroom and get it all over himself and wouldn’t stay away from it no matter how many times I pulled him away or yelled at him. When we were finished in the bathroom, I came out to find that my older two hadn’t changed their usual behavior of not listening to me and were in the pool. That was it for me! I told my younger two that they had three minutes and then were out of there, vowing to never bring them back. My oldest ran off to the locker room without his dry clothes, so I had to herd him back out and the three others into a private changing room so I could get them all showered off and changed. That was a fun experience, said no mother ever.

We left the gym all unhappy and angry. I looked at the clock and realized that we still had an hour and a half until the farmer’s market opened and it was too late in the day to drive home without kids falling asleep. I also felt bad that the pool had been such a disaster, so, still determined to turn this day around, I decided to take my kids over to the library for a bit because, you know, that’s where you take four, rowdy, pissed off, tired boys. That went over better than I expected. My oldest was actually good and took a real interest in researching computers and technology, take many books out on the subject. My six year old also found some good books and practiced his reading. I only had to yell at my four year old a handful of times not to run or scream in the library and my two year old only had two or three full on screaming melt downs.

Thinking this might be a turning point, I took the boys to the park for a bit before the farmer’s market opened. I was feeling renewed hope by the time we walked up to the market. “This is it! We are finally going to have the nice day I’ve been striving for all day. We’ll get food, have fun, make good memories that will overshadow the rest of the day, and then head home for an early bedtime.” I mistakenly thought. It quickly became apparent though that these kids desperately needed food because they had only pretend eaten at lunch. So as I waited in line for quesadillas for some of the kids and then walked my six year old to every food stand trying to convince him to pick something, my other kids dug ice cubes out of the drink coolers at the food stands and threw them at people. Once my six year old finally decided to get dumplings (which were only supposed to take 5 minutes, but took 20 to cook), I got my kids seated to eat their quesadillas, only now they all wanted dumplings. As I went back and forth to the various food stands we had bought our food at, picking up the food, my kids sat quietly in the grass. No, that didn’t happen at all. What happened was, they chased each other, threw shoes at each other, and eventually my four year old threw a container of soy sauce at my six year old and got it all in his eye. I’m sure the people who were sitting not so close to us were all thinking that my kids had just escaped from some wild zoo exhibit. My oldest, who ate most of his own quesadilla, then circled the six year old like a vulture once he finally got his dumplings. The cries for dumplings from those who got quesadillas began again, so I ordered more dumplings for them to split. When they were finally finished eating, they all acted surprised and indignant that I wouldn’t let them get some Hawaiian shaved ice, like their shoe and soy sauce throwing behavior shouldn’t be held against them.  Despite everything, I still braved more of the farmer’s market with the goal of being there late enough that it would be okay for the littler ones to fall asleep on the care ride home. So we wandered the venders while the kids touched things they weren’t supposed to, ran off on me, whined more, fought over popcorn (yes I bought more food), and were just generally exhausting and irritating. I knew it was time to go when the two year old melted down for the 97th time that day. We made one last stop at the bathroom, which I had to force my four year old into and good thing too because he clearly needed to pee, braved the gauntlet of the parking lot, and made it to the car. The kids were given strict instructions that it would be a quiet ride home. Knowing I had them all at least temporarily contained, I took the long way hope and silently prayed that at least two would fall asleep and stay asleep once we got home.

Two kids did fall asleep before we got home, but fate was not kind enough to me to allow them to stay asleep for me so we could have an easy bedtime.  Instead, my six year old began talking loudly the minute we got hope and then the UPS truck made a loud noise as it put out a ramp to deliver several packages to a neighbor. I finally managed to get the youngest back to sleep and sneak out of the room so I could deal with the other three, but by then, the other child who was sleeping was awake and hungry. Then the other boys were hungry too despite eating their weight in food from the different food stands at the market! It was as I doled out snacks to those awake that I heard the six year old call me from the bathroom to inform me of the mysterious poop smear on his shorts. At that point I about completely lost it, but I held it together just long enough to herd the boys upstairs and hear the youngest wake up.  Perfect, just perfect!

Advertisements

My Dad’s Legacy

While sick with cancer, my father once expressed concern about how his kids would remember him when he was gone. I think he thought that some of the things we give him a hard time about were the things we were going to remember the most about him after he died. In our family the rule tends to be, if we love you, we give you a hard time. Well my dad has live 69 years and I have known him for almost 40 now which means I’ve had plenty of time to give him a hard time, but those jokes and razzings aren’t the things I’m going to remember most about my dad when he’s gone because there is so much more to him.

I’ll remember my dad traveling for work a lot when I was little and always anxiously waiting for him to get home. He’d bring me treasures like giant pencils or cheap plastic wallets purchased at airport gift shops in exotic locations like Dallas and Denver.

I’ll remember my dad for the times he’d sit on the couch watching Saturday morning cartoons with us. He’d laugh louder at Bugs Bunny’s shenanigans than any of us.

I’ll remember his obsession with cleaning his car. Sometimes he’d let us help him wash it in the driveway on the weekends. Other times he’d let us ride through the local car wash with him, always waiting until we were at the sprayers and then cracking our windows just enough to get us wet. He never failed to get us, even when we knew it as coming. He’d always keep paper towels and Windex in his trunk and before any long car ride he would be sure to pull them out and clean his windows.

I’ll remember him as a fire buff. He was a member of the Boston Sparks Association and was even president at one time. He had a fire scanner blasting in almost every room of the house (it drove my mom nuts). He’d turn the volume way up to listen if there was a fire. If the fire was big enough, he’d race out the door to go to it. Sometimes he’d go with the BSA and bring their canteen truck to serve food and beverages to the fire fighters on the job (if I was lucky, I got to go with him). Other times he’d just go to watch and talk with the people there. It often seemed like my dad would talk to just about anybody. He was like a little kid when it came to the fire department. He even owned an antique fire truck with a couple of friends for several years. I loved it because we got to ride on it in parades. Plus not many kids could say their dad owned a fire truck! I’m sure it was his love for all things fire department that led to my brother becoming a fire fighter and my dad couldn’t be prouder.

I’ll remember my dad’s love for all things Boston, the city in which he grew up in. My dad would take us for special days into the city and teach us about the city’s history. He took us to places like the Boston Tea Party ship, the top of the John Hancock Building, Bunker Hill, Copps Hill, to see Old Iron Side, to walk around Castle Island, and Faneuil Hall. He made me love the city and sparked a keen interest in the revolutionary war. He also took me to my first Red Sox Game at Fenway Park when I was about 3 or 4 years old. Most of my life he had season tickets just behind third base. I spent many summer evenings there with him. We’d always park kind of far away and walk in past the Fens, grab some peanuts from the old singing peanuts and pistachio guy, enjoy some Fenway Franks and a large pretzel inside the park, and he’d tell me about all the players. He taught me that, up until the past decade or so, the one thing you could count on the Red Sox for (and all Boston area sports teams) was to get your hopes up and then let you down hard. He’d get mad when they were losing, changing to channel temporally if we were watching the game on TV at home, but he’d always come back to them.  He took me to Celtics Games too as a kid, back when Bird and Parrish played and their shorts were short. We’d sit a few rows back from the Celtic’s bench and my siblings and I would get all the players’ autographs. Despite my begging, he wouldn’t take me to a Patriot’s game (he said the crowd was too rowdy), but he taught me to love them too. Every Sunday in the fall was dedicated to football. I still remember watching most of the Patriots-Bears Super Bowl in ’86 with my dad. I knew they had lost by my dad’s disappointed shouts echoing up the stairs as I lay in bed trying to sleep.

I’ll remember my dad as the man who was known by everybody. Like I said before, he loved to talk and would talk to just about anybody. He was a member of several social groups including the BSA and the local Rotary Club. Almost every place we went my dad saw someone he knew. At the baseball games he’d always run into several people he knew, having a lobster roll up in Maine he’d run into someone he hadn’t seen in years, even all the way down in Florida at Disney World he’d run into people he knew. I will never forget the time we were parking our car in a parking garage several stories up on our way to a Celtics game, he got out of the car, looked out at the building across the way from us and there, hanging out a window trying to talk on a phone while the smoke alarm was going off in his apartment was a guy my dad knew waving at him. He knew people everywhere!

I’ll remember my dad as the man who worked hard to take care of his family. He worked hard to give us a beautiful house in which we each had our own room and a large beautiful backyard which he spent days every summer mulching. He provided us with family trips to amusement parks, Lake George, Disney World, and even a winter break at a hotel with a pool just so we could swim even though he didn’t know how to. He worked multiple jobs while I was in college to help keep me from having enormous debt in the form of student loans when I finished. He also took on the traditional role of father of the bride, despite it being an outdated custom, and paid for my amazing wedding.

I’ll remember my dad as the doting grandpa we call “Papi.” He might not have the energy to play for very long with the kids, but he loves to watch them play. He will swoop in, grab them, flip them upside-down, and tickle them, and they love it. Whenever he visits he brings them fire shirts to pass along his love for the profession. He’s also notorious for buying his grandkids donuts, even though they don’t need the extra sugar. He just loves to spoil them.

I’ll remember my dad for a lot of things after he is gone; for all the things he taught me, all the things he instilled in me, for all the traits I get from him, for all the things he did with and for me, and for all the love he gave me. So Dad, you don’t have to worry about the legacy you are leaving behind or how we will remember you when you are gone, because you have given us a lifetime of memories and hopefully we will have many more years to make new ones too.

Parenting my parents

When you are a kid your parents seem invincible. They are like superheroes, always there when you need them, seem to have eyes in the back of their head, have an answer for everything, and are strong enough to help you get through anything life can throw at you. As you get older though, you start to notice the cracks in their armor and begin to realize that your parents are people too. As a teen you might question whether your parents really know what is best and you begin to challenge their authority. When you become a parent, you see your parents in a new light, gaining a new sense of understanding and respect for your parents as well as for all they did for you growing up. Still, your parents seem pretty invincible, like they will always be there. Unfortunately, parents aren’t invincible superheroes and we all learn that at some point. The weight of this truth can feel crushing.

I can still remember the first time I saw my dad as vulnerable. I was in eighth grade, sitting upstairs in my brother’s room attempting to beat one of the early Mario brother games when I heard a strange noise downstairs. My brother and I ran downstairs to the kitchen to find my dad doing something we had never seen before, he was crying. My dad had just learned that his best friend had died of a heart attack and was grieving openly in our kitchen. We had no idea what to do or how to react. Here was our strong, unmovable father, crumpled and heart broken. This was the first time it occurred to me that my dad was human and that he too felt emotions other than joy and anger (the two most commonly expressed by him). It was hard to see and it left me with a deep sadness, but also a new view of my dad.

My view of my dad changed again, many years later, when I was an adult and a parent myself. We were at my grandfather’s wake, my father’s father, and my last living grandparent. I wasn’t super close with my dad’s parent and they had lived very long full lives, so I mostly just felt really sad for my dad because he had lost both of his parents now. The thought that struck me in that moment of standing there, watching my dad grieve again, this time for his own father, was one for panic and sadness. All my life I’d had grandparents around me, growing older, getting sick, and dying, but now there was no longer a generation between my parents and death, they were now the ones that would be getting older, sick, and dying. I felt like a clock had been started, like a countdown to their expiration date. I realized that there was only a finite amount of years left before they would be gone and I’d have to figure out how to live in a world without the two people who had always been a part of my life. This thought formed a pit in my stomach that I pushed deep down inside of me.

Years have passed since my last living grandparent died and my parents have become grandparents several more times since then. There have been health scares with my parents since then, my mom fought breast cancer, dad’s got diabetes and had a pacemaker put in, but nothing that has truly worried us about their age and mortality, until now. At the beginning of this year my dad was diagnosed with esophageal and stomach cancer. He was classified as stage 2-B and had radiation and chemo for a few months. At the beginning of last month he had part of his stomach removed in an attempt to take out whatever cancer was left. He spent two weeks in the hospital and came home on a feeding tube. I flew out to help my mom with caring for him and to give her moral support after he came home. I was able to stay and help out for a week. While I was there they found out that he has been reclassified as stage 3-B and would need to undergo 4 ½ more month of chemo, this time a much heavier duty type of chemo (the killing kind as they call it).

The week I spent at my parent’s house was very different from anything I’d ever experienced, but it seems to be an all too common experience shared by many adults around my age that I know. I was no longer the child my parent’s cared for back for a visit, instead, I had become the care taker. My parents were both in vulnerable positons, my father due to illness and my mother due to stress and exhaustion from caring for my sick father. They both needed me in a way I had never experienced before. My father was physically weak, unable to do much for himself, he was thinner than any recent memory of him, and he expressed his concern over needing more chemo almost the first moment I talked to him. He was not the dad I had known all my life. My mom was emotionally zapped. In the days leading up to my visit, she called multiple times, expressing how anxious she was for me to get there; I felt like the countdown to my arrival couldn’t move fast enough for her. She was so relieved to have help and company when I got there. Her exhaustion showed and the worry was visible on her face. I just hugged her hard and long, wanting to somehow convey that feeling that everything was going to be alright that she used to make me feel during tough situations.

Seeing my father so sick also hit home the mortality of my parents. That pit that first formed at my grandfather’s wake grew larger and began to feel more overwhelming. Despite anything my family may say about my dad and his lack of caring for his own health over the years, no matter how unhealthy or sick he might get, we are not ready to say goodbye to him. Losing a parent just isn’t something I’m ready to deal with yet, I’m not sure I’ll ever be, but it is something we all have to deal with eventually.

As our parents get older our roles tend to switch. We go from our parents caring for us, worrying about our health and safety, and planning for our future, to us being the ones taking caring of our parents in their old age, calling to check-in after ever doctor’s appointment, and worrying about a future without them. We, in a sense, become our parents’ parent.

My dad is doing better now, though still recovering. He recently had his feeding tube out, but is still on a liquid diet and he has been getting out of the house more, though he tires very easily. He has also recently made a decision about his future. After weighing his options and all the possible outcomes with his doctor, my father has made the decision that he will not undergo more chemo. So, like a good parent always does, I am supporting my father’s decision, because I only want what is best for him, but I still worry about his future. For now I will relinquish my role as parent back to him and I pray that we will get many more good years before I have to become my parents’ parent again.

Let’s try this again

Okay, so it has been awhile since I’ve posted and I’ve  totaly slacked off, but raising four boys takes a lot of time and effort and the few hours a day that I’m not doing that, I’m usually sleeping (or trying to). A few months ago, my husband gave me a Surface with a little key board and everything and I thought ” I’m totally going to get back to writing my blog and crank it out with this awesome keyboard!” Except, the Surface doesn’t come with the most important thing I needed, child care. So I wasn’t too successful at getting going on my blog again. I’ve missed writing dearly, just like my sanity, so I decided that, since I can’t do anything to get my sanity back, I’m going to try to get back one of the few hobbies I have and love. I’ve made a New Years resolution (for lack of a better term that doesn’t doom me to failure), I’m going to write at least one blog entry every month (baby steps, I want to succeed after all) and I’m starting with this one.

I figured I should reintroduce myself and update my situation. Hi, I’m Survivingmyboyz (barely). I currently live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband who often widows me for long hours at his big name tech company, our 4 rambunctious boys who are aged 8, 6, 4, and almost 2, and a dog who enjoys eating garbage far more than seems health for any animal other than a goat. I live this way because sanity is over rated.

My youngest was born 9 weeks early and spent 77 days in the NICU, followed by other issues that are all resolved now. He started causing trouble before he was born and hasn’t slowed down since. His main goal in life right now is to fuck up as much shit as he can before bedtime and he is definitely suceeding at that goal.

My four year old has finally successfully potty trained without daily accidents as of last month. I’m so happy. It only took him a year and a half to finally get it, but he no longer stands in front of the toilet and craps his pants as I’m handling raw chicken in attempts to get dinner in the oven. Now if only he would work on his aim, I’m sure my floors, walls, and everything else in the general area of the toilet would appreciate it. Baby steps right?

My six year old is in kindergarten and I’m super proud of how hard he is working and how well he is doing in school. He’s such a sweet, wonderful kid, that I might actually agree to his requests to marry him when he is older. Of course, that is dependent on whether or not he is still most proud of being the best farter  and most gassiest because I kind of feel like a husband should have loftier goals that aren’t related to his farting abilities.

My oldest son is a good kid, but a handful. He is the kid of kid that teachers enjoy when they aren’t in their classroom. If I’d known what we were in for with him, he’d probably have been an only child. However, by the time his true colors shined through, we were already into the making of a third kid, so I just doubled down and went for four. Makes sense right? He was diagnosed with SPD (sensory processing disorder) last summer, so we are learning what the means and how to deal with his issues. It is exhausting dealing with it, but I love him (and not just because I have to).

I spend most of my life running kids where they need to be and arriving late, picking up dirty socks to wash but never pair and put away, making meals that no one will eat, cleaning things that immediately become dirty again, losing my mind in constant chaos, and really enjoy it all (ok, not all, but most of it). 

I guess what I’m saying is, this is why I haven’t written in awhile. But here I am, totally confident that, despite life not getting any easier or slowing down, I’m totally going to be better about writing my blog. I mean, I guess I could always just stay up at night to do my writing like I am now. Besides, five hours of sleep a night was starting feel like too much and I’m sure that just like sanity, sleep is overrated.

a year of health

 

a year ago (2014)

 
A year ago today, I stood in the Children’s Hospital waiting room, a ball of tension and anxiety, and I cried. I cried tears I’d need to cry for months. These weren’t tears of saddeness though, these were tears of joy, and more importantly, relief. We’d had a rough six months. Despite the sun being on the horizon multiple times, it’s rays never seemed to reach us, but that day, the sun finally shone on my family and my sweet littlest boy.

As I stood in that hospital waiting room, preparing for the worst, I heard the doctor speak the words none of us thought we would hear, “it is just a cyst.” And like that, the sun came out, a miracle was grant, and my baby was spared the horrendous picture of his likely future that the doctors had painted. He was healed. It was a night and day difference, like we’d brought in our broken little baby and they had just handed us a brand new healthy one. The docors and nurses couldn’t even believe that it was the same child. Even harder than comprehending the change from the baby who entered to hospital to the baby who left it is comprehending who this child is today compared with a year ago. On occasion, I look back at pictures and videos of my son from the first five months of his life. It is very hard to look at those pictures, but the videos are even worse. I remember his breathing being loud and him struggling with it, but I guess I had forgotten just how bad it was. These videos remind me of just how far he has come and just how lucky I am that he is now healthy. 

This past year has been a year of health for my littlest guy; a year to celebrate. A year ago today he got the all clear from the doctors. Within hours we said goodbye to the feeding tube permanently and he was sucking down bottles faster than I could pump them. It must have been just as amazing to him that he could finally breathe and because of that, he could finally eat and enjoy it. Within a week, he was taking almost all of his milk directly from the breast and within two weeks he had gained almost an entire pound. A month later we got rid of his sleeping wedge and all the equipment for feeding. We began to live normal lives. My littlest guy found his voice (a very loud one), he began eating solid foods, and he had more energy from all the food so he was able to become mobile. Soon he was cruising around the house and into everything he could reach. He was walking just after his first birthday, which he celebrated by eating a giant chunk of cake. Sure there were still reminders of all he’d gone through. There were follow up appointments and multiple shots to prevent RSV, but aside from a nasty stomach bug that hit the whole family, an ear infection, and visit to the ER for a (luckily not broken) finger slammed in the front door, he was healthy and growing. 

Today, my littlest guy still isn’t on the charts for weight, but he certainly eats his fair share. He loves peanutbutter crackers and granola bars and helps himself to them whenever he finds the pantry door left open.  He begrudgingly drinks his milk from a sippy cup, but prefers a lid-free big-kid cup. The same attitude applies to eating in a high-chair versus a normal chair, even more preferred though is to sit directly on the kitchen table, which is where I often find him. If we would let him, he would happily climb up onto the counter or into the sink after eating to clean his own dishes or even assist us in pressing the buttons on the oven to help us prepare the food. He has just changed and grown so much in the past year that it is unbelievable to think that he was that frail, sick little baby a year ago. It is amazing how much of a difference a year of health can make!
 

today (2015)

 

I’m sorry, do I know you?

Have you ever been to a store and pretended that you didn’t know your own kids? That was me today at Costco.

I almost got away with a trip to Costco with just the baby, but I pushed my luck, hoping for a little extra time with my oldest, and convinced him to come. At the last minute my second oldest decided that he would come too. I hadn’t exactly asked him, but I didn’t want him to feel like we were excluding him. I really just wanted to take less kids with me, but I guess technically three out of four kids is less kids. Plus, I thought it might be a good chance for the older two boys to bond more since they will both be going to school together next year. Unfortunately, they bonded in a way I hadn’t really expected.

We started the trip with all three boys in the cart, which I knew wouldn’t last long. I was lucky enough to keep the baby entertained enough to keep him from whining until checkout by giving him a frozen yogurt to make a mess with. The other two, however, found their own form of entertainment and took off running by the time we were past the snack aisles at the front of the store. They devised several games over the course of the trip which included a racing game, chasing game, fighting with bananas and cucumbers game, a rolling on the floor wrestling game, and a punching game. I’m sure there were a few others I didn’t pick up on because once they got to the chasing game I began to pretend I didn’t know them. 

We entered the cold produce area and I began make my way around the square area of vegetables when I heard a mom yell at her child with the dreaded triple name call and scold her for attempting to play chase around and around with my boys who we in full on rambunctious, but not destructive mode. I heard her explain to her child that she was absolutely not allowed to act in such a manner as she looked around for the terrible mother that was doing such a horrible job of being responsible for these out of control children.  I just looked at her, looked at my two boys, and then looked back at my mess, but well behaved baby and pretended like he was the only child I had. I was careful to not yell at the boys until she was well out of earshot so as not to blow my cover. From that point on, I continued to walk through Costco pretending I didn’t know my own children unless one of them was about to run into someone, break something, or they exposed me by addressing me directly.

I really didn’t think I’d spend an afternoon in the same location as my kids pretending I didn’t know them until the were at least Tweens or teenagers and begged me not to acknowledge them so they wouldn’t die of embarrassment. I’m thinking that when the tables are turned, a few years from now, maybe their father and I should run around like idiots as pay back.

Your presences is the true present

Dear Husband of Mine,

It is only a few days until Christmas and you are now on vacation, so I just want to remind you of a few things. First and foremost, you are on vacation from work, not your family and it is the holidays, a time for family, so please be mindful of this.

You have worked so hard the past few months, working long hours, missing meals and bedtimes, working despite being sick or it being your day off. We appreciate all this hard work, but we’ve missed you. We have dealt with you being tied to your phone, answering every email and text and even jumping up in the middle of dinner to log back into work. We worked around your sudden call into work on the boys’ birthday when it was your day off and rearranged our day so you could deal with problems that arose, but now your big project is done and launched and you have a break, so please take that break. Put your phone down, stop checking your emails and texts, don’t even look at newsfeeds or blogs. Let this be the last one you look at, let the message sink in, then put away your electronic devices, and enjoy some time with your family.

The boys have all missed you, they crave your attention. They don’t want you half paying attention, they want you involved. They may not be doing what you want to be doing, but they want you to take an interest and spend some time with them. Our oldest is already 7 and they are all growing so fast. One day you’ll come home and the kids will all be gone. They will be off doing their own things and want nothing to do with us, so savor these moments, don’t waste them and miss out. This time doesn’t last forever, you will miss it when it is gone.

This is the baby’s first Christmas, sure he won’t remember it, but we will and so will his brothers. Think back to 9 months ago, when he was in the NICU, we didn’t know if he would make it to his first Christmas. This could’ve been a sad time, if things hadn’t turned out ok. This Christmas would feel a lot different if we had lost him in our struggles this year. We’ve been through so much this year and now it is almost over, so take some time to reflex on this past year and all that we’ve survived. Take some time for quiet appreciation of all we are blessed to have.

Remember what this time of year is about, family and traditions, giving and loving, and selfless acts of kindness. Your boys look to you to see how they should behave. If you lack the Christmas spirit, they will do the same. Show them all the fun they can have enjoying the simple things. Help us do some baking, wrapping, and celebrating. Watch holiday shows, sing Christmas carols, wear a silly Christmas hat. Show them how important it is to give and not just receive. Put away your yelling, aggravated voice, chose to laugh instead.

Lastly I ask, for the one true gift I want. Please be present this week in all we do. Listen to me and actually hear what I say. Please pay attention, make some memories, and enjoy our beautiful family. We love you and we want you here physically, mentally, and emotionally. Now go put your phone and tablet down and let’s enjoy this holiday.

Love,
Your Wife and Children

Saving my son from the world

I’m afraid it is starting, the world is beginning to try to ruin my sweet little boy.
The other day, my sweet little My Little Pony loving, nail polish wearing, pink is his favorite color little guy came home and told us that liking princesses made you a girl and that he no longer liked My Little Ponies. I know he really doesn’t feel this way (he fell asleep with one of his mini ponies in his hand tonight), but someone is telling him this and I’m afraid that one day he might believe it is true.
My first though was naturally to homeschool him and never let him leave the house again in hopes of persevering his pure sweetness, but I realized that wouldn’t work because he’d still have contact with his older brother who already teaches him plenty of bad things. So I had to settle for a less drastic route in dealing with this, I had to set him straight and arm him with the strength to stand up against this kind of thinking.
My husband and I talked to him together about what he said. I figured, if he didn’t believe me because I am a girl, maybe he’d believe his dad since he is a boy. First we asked him who told him this information. He just acted a little embarrassed. We didn’t expect him to name names, we were making a point to him that we knew someone else had told him this and that it wasn’t his thinking. We then told him that whoever told him this was wrong. We explained to him that there are no “boy” things and “girl” things and that he could like whatever he wanted. We told him that boys and girl could like, be, and do whatever they wanted to. I explained to him that the only true “boy” thing or “girl” thing was what was between our legs in our private areas and that was the only real difference between boys and girls (we’ve been having the “boys have a penis and girls have a vagina” talk for years). My husband even went a step further than he probably needed to at this age and told him that if, when he was older, he decided he want a girl part instead of a boy part, he could even have that. My son just laughed and didn’t believe that part of the story, which is fine because I’m not about to try to explain that to him. Our main message to him was that he should like what he likes and not let others tell him what he could or should like and not like. We told him that we love him and the person that he is and that he shouldn’t change.
I’m sure this won’t be the last time I hear from my son about messages he is getting about “girl” things and “boy” things. I’m sure one day my son might even bring home worse messages that other people might try to convince him of and ruin him with, but I’m hoping that if we keep sending my son the right messages, he will not believe the wrong ones. Hopefully, if we just instill self-confidence in my son, other people wouldn’t be able to make him doubt himself and ruin him. If we are lucky, maybe one day, my sweet little boy will even help fix the world with his kind, gentle, loving acceptance and help others open their eyes to see the world the way he does.

I love you, but I really don’t like you.

“I love you, but I really don’t like you and can’t be near you right now.” That’s the message I just sent three of my four kids off the bed with (the fourth is only a baby, so he isn’t old enough to get this message yet). Does this make me a horrible mother? Probably, but I’ve reached my limit and I know I can’t be the only mom out there feeling this way.

It is Friday night and I’ve been pushed beyond my brink at this point. This week has been hard, so have the last two or three. I’ve been a virtual single mother lately, through no fault of my husband’s. I’m a work widow. My poor husband has been working 12 hour workdays on a good day. Other days he doesn’t crawl into bed until after 2am. It is temporary and I know that.

He’s tired, I’m tired, and the kids don’t sleep. Our bed has become a revolving door of children lately. There is the baby, who is expected to keep us up, but aside from him waking to feed, he isn’t that bad. Then there is our first grader, who will sleep through the night most nights, but wakes way too early and clumsily stumbles into our room looking for electronic devices each morning. Our soon to be five year old has developed a fear of everything (again) and has been having nightmares. Most nights I can convince him to go back to sleep in the empty toddler bed in our room, but lately, he has been waking up again in that bed and wanting to crawl in with us. This is problematic because, despite having a king size bed, our bed is already crowded. That’s because that empty toddler bed in our room belongs to my almost three year old who never sleeps in it anymore and he is my worst sleeper of all. He wakes within two hours of finally getting to sleep (usually not long after I’ve finally gotten to sit down and attempt to relax for the night). He wakes again just as I’m falling off to sleep each night. He has night terrors for 20 minutes and wakes up the baby. He kicks, toss and turns, flails about, and yells out in his sleep once we have finally given up and let him into our bed. No one in our beds sleeps well.

The mornings come too early, with too little sleep, and very little cooperation from the three kids I need to get out of the house to school. It has been cold and wet and traffic near my kids ‘ preschool has been horrific lately for such a small town. I feel like I spend all morning getting kids in and out of car seats, shuttling them to and from school. I have very little time to get anything done on the two mornings a week that I’m down to one kid. Most of the time I’m tired and just want to crawl back into get, but there is grocery shopping to do, errands to run, toys to pick up, dishes to clean, and the never ending mountain of clothes to be washed, folded, and on the rare occasion, actually put away. We paid people a good amount of money to come clean last week, thinking we could spend the weekend relaxing for a change, but the house was a disaster area again by the next morning (by the next evening my two oldest had peed in the bathroom sink and pooped on the bathroom floor, on purpose). When the two middle kids get home, it is a never ending cycle on meal prep and clean up. Then hurricane first grader gets off the bus and tears through the house. The homework battle begins, melt downs ensue, and the baby is screaming; the witching hour is upon us. Magically, a dinner that everyone refuses to eat makes it to the table, several glasses of milk are spilt, food dusts the floor around us, and another pile of dishes collect, just incase I didn’t have anything fun to do once the kids are in bed. After dinner, I herd cats upstairs and into pajamas. We have the “did you really brush your teeth?” argument (spoiler alert: they didn’t) which always ends with a breath check that makes me really wish I hadn’t (why do they think the rotting food between their teeth smell won’t give them away?). Then the real juggling act begins!

Have you ever put four kids to bed by yourself? Oh, you should try it sometime, it is fun! First is the baby, who isn’t like my other kids were as babies. My other kids could be put on a boob and fall asleep while I multi-tasked, not this one though. This one was born a fighter, he was a preemie, so he seems to think that everything deserves a fight, even going to bed. A lot of rocking, jiggling, back patting, and sshhing are necessary to get him to sleep. Meanwhile, his brothers bounce off the walls like idiots, jostling him or kicking him in the head every time I almost have him a sleep. Once he’s finally out, I attempt to read to three boys who all want to be next to me. News flash: there are three of you and I only have two sides, you can’t all be next to me. I attempt to get them to all take turns sitting next to me as I read the required 20 minutes of reading each night. When reading is done, I attempt to separate kids by sending my oldest to his room with an electronic device (nothing like ending the day the way you started it, with more screen time) and I try to get my middle two to lay on opposite sides of me in what is suppose to be their shared, full sized bed. Usually this is about when someone gets impatient with me as I set up the baby monitor and wakes the baby back up. Once the baby is back asleep and the middle two are almost asleep, my oldest usually decides it is his turn to wake up one of his younger brothers. I finally get the middle two to sleep, the baby may or may not be awake again, and I go lay with my oldest who then likes to play a game called “annoy the crap out of mom so you won’t fall asleep.” Usually it is close to 9pm when I’m finally able to sneak downstairs, it only took 2+ hours to get them all to bed, temporarily. Then there is cleaning up from dinner to be done, a dog to feed, and lunch for school to be made. I finally get a chance to sit and turn on a show so I can unwind before bed when, you guessed it, the Middlest wakes up.

On top of this daily grind of my typical day, I’ve been trying so hard to not yell at my kids, I try to do fun things with them, and be in the moment. It’s not working. I’ve tried all the things people and articles tell you to do. I try letting the mess go and just be with the kids; the mess just gets bigger. I try making healthy food they usually love; they don’t eat it. I try talking calmly to my kids and laughing at the horrible things they do that I know I’ll laugh at as I tell people about them later; they just continue to do horrible things. I plan fun activities that we can all enjoy, things I might actually be able to relax during, like tonight’s living room camp out and movie with popcorn; one complained the whole time while another made repeated messes that I had to keep getting up to clean. You name it, I’ve tried it, and all I’ve gotten is exhausted, frustrated, and taken for granted. I’ve had it! Tonight, after several weeks of this, I started to really think that I might just need to go back to work so I can escape and let someone else raise my kids. How awful is that?

I love my kids, but I really have not liked them very much lately. There just seems to always be one who has to make things miserable at every moment of my day. Sure, they can all come together and act like total animals at the same time, nearly driving me insane, but can they ever come together and just allow a moment to be peaceful and enjoyable; no way!

So what am I suppose to do? I’d never find a job that will make enough to pay for four in day care, not that I even have time to look. Besides, I love my kids, even if I don’t want to be around them right now. If I got a job, the first morning I had to leave them would be precisely the moment I’d decide that I really do want to be around them after all. I guess my only solution is to sneak downstairs, heat up the dessert I decided not to share with them, and attempt to devour it while watching a few seconds of tv before someone wakes up. Wish me luck!

The parting of the storm clouds

This past Sunday, my husband and I had the rare opportunity to get out of the house, sans kids, for a date. With family coming in and out of town over the past few months to help us out, we’ve actually managed to escape kid-free a few times, but, as enjoyable as some one-on-one time with my spouse was, those dates weren’t really relaxing, until this past Sunday. Before this past Sunday’s date, our past few dates were marred by heavy hearts over the struggles of our youngest son during his young five months of life. This past Sunday’s date was different though because the clouds that have darkened our lives since a few weeks before his birth have finally lifted.

On the sixth of this month, my littlest guy celebrated his five month birthday by leaving the hospital with no plans of returning. After struggling to live, breath, and eat from the time before he was even born and through his entire little life, my son is finally able to invest his energy in more age appropriate activities, like discovering his hands and feet. Only a little more than two weeks ago we were sitting in the hospital again with my littlest guy, facing a calendar full of surgeries and hospitalizations through at least the end of the year and even the possibility of a permanent trachea tube. Today, we are home, enjoying all of life’s small moments of happiness and feeling blessed.

Our littlest guy struggled through a respiratory virus, with the assistance of steroids and some extra oxygen, and was healthy enough to go under general anesthesia for a more comprehensive scope of his airway last Monday. My husband met me at the hospital the morning of the procedure and we sat together with our littlest guy, comforting him as they prepped him for the procedure, trying to prepare ourselves for what we were about to find out and what the future held for our son. The doctor promised that the procedure would only take minutes to get in and evaluate his airway, then we would be told how they would proceed to attempt to fix the problem. We were prepping for a long tough road. We waited nervously in the waiting room ,for what seemed like hours instead of minutes ,for the call. When the OR nurse called, I spoke with her on the phone as my husband and I held hands. Soon tears streamed from my eyes as I felt the oppressive storm clouds that had been hanging around me for so many months finally part and I could breath again. There was a minute chance that when the doctors got in to get a better look at my son’s airway, instead of scar tissue, it would be a cyst. The chances were so small that they didn’t even mention the possibility the first time we saw the ENT doctor. If this was the case, they would be able to pop the cyst and clean out the airway with minimal work being done and little recovery needed, it was the absolute best case scenario, though highly unlikely. We had so many people pulling for us and praying that it must have worked because the nurse said those words we were not prepared for, “it is just a cyst”! We were overjoyed! I couldn’t stop crying from relief, excitement, disbelief, and happiness. My little guy was not going to need the multiple procedures and surgeries we were mentally preparing ourselves for; he wasn’t going to spend his entire first year in and out of the hospital! We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. When we talked to the ENT doctor, he expressed how excited and surprised he was to find just a cyst; it was so unlikely. He was so excited that he told the nurse to call us immediately with the good news. All the nurses and doctors on my son’s medical team were so happy and even better, they were in shock by how great my son was doing as soon as he woke up in the ICU. When I first entered his ICU room, my son was sleeping. He was so quiet, unlike his normal, loud, labored breathing, I had to check for myself to make sure he was still breathing, despite all the machines he was hooked up to telling me he was fine. When my son woke up, it was like he was a totally different kid. He went from eating 40-65mls of milk over the course of a half hour to downing 70-100mls of milk in 10 minutes! His breathing was quiet, not labored. This gave him extra energy to discover his tongue, talk more, exercise his arms and legs, and just be more, overall happy and alert. He seemed ready to go home within hours of the surgery and the ICU staff said they would’ve discharged him from there if they could’ve, but ENT made us spend a night in ICU. Once we moved to a room on a regular floor, my son kept setting off all the machines by being so active that his sensors kept coming off, so nurses relieved him of wire after wire relatively quickly. We were able to convince the doctors to only keep us one more night after leaving the ICU.

So, to celebrate his five month birthday, my son left the hospital (again) able to breath and without a feeding tube! He is home and happy and doing the things a five month old (3 month adjusted) should be doing. At his last doctor’s appointment he had gained 1pound, 1oz since she had seen him a month earlier, not bad considering he had lost some weight when he first went into the hospital. At last check he was a hefty 9lbs 8oz.

In the coming weeks my littlest guy will still need to do some follow up visits. He is done with OT, but still needs to see the nutritionist. We are hoping that she will allow us to send back all his feeding tube equipment by the end of the month and that he will come off the fortified breast milk and be able to eat just regular breast milk within the next two months. He goes back to see the ENT doctors in a few weeks and in the middle of next month, he with go under general anesthesia again for another look, to make sure the cyst has not returned. If there is no sign of regrowth, he is home free! Despite those follow ups, I feel like this is finally, truly over.

I now find myself enjoying an ease that I have not felt for a very long time. I have been able to stop holding my breath and don’t have that constant worry at the back of my mind. I find myself fully enjoying the moments in life, big and small. My favorite moments right now, are the ones in which I am able to watch my three older boys playing while holding my wiggling, giggling littlest guy. The storm clouds have finally parted and I am enjoying the sunshine in the form of a toothless, drooling smile.

IMG_0591.JPG

The before and after picture of my son’s airway. He was basically breathing through a straw sized hole that went even further back than the picture shows.

Post Navigation