Sunday, October 30, 2011

Emotional stretching

As I think most of you know, I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression back in the spring. And I started going to therapy and taking medication, and I'm overall doing much better.  But I'm still not doing a good job of being in touch with my emotions or dealing with them. Over the last 15 years, I've become very disassociated from my feelings. It's just easier that way.  Not healthy, but much easier.

But sometimes I have no choice but to come in contact with emotions. The past three weeks have been especially emotional, starting with Ethan's surgery and recovery. A little stretching of the emotions there, although I also had to be strong and in charge and responsible for Ethan's health and feeding, so I could kind of ignore it then.

And then last weekend I spent Saturday at an anti-human trafficking conference.  Try not feeling emotions at a place like that.  Again, I was able to mostly just put aside my emotions and think about the practical side of things- what the group I'm involved with can be doing, how we can get more involved, how I can be physically doing more.  Emotions again successfully avoided.

Then this weekend I had the opportunity to attend Women of Faith here in Seattle. Two days of worshiping and laughing and crying and listening to women tell their stories on stage, and having my faith encouraged. All in a massive arena full of 5000 women.  By yesterday evening, my friend and I were utterly emotionally drained.  So many thoughts, so many feelings, so much input.  I came home last night feeling tireder than I was after I ran my 10K this fall. 

I told Daniel that attending the conference this weekend was like being dropped into an emotional marathon with almost no training.  This emotional, personal stuff is hard work.  But I'm glad that I went to Women of Faith- I heard so many things that I desperately needed to hear.  I got so many reminders that I don't have to do it all and I don't have to do it perfectly. I got reminders of God's ever present grace and love. I got reminded that I am beautiful in His sight. And I got the much, much needed message that, if I am still walking this earth, then God's purpose for me is not fulfilled. Even the small things that I do in life can have a profound effect in years to come.

And now I need a nap :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

30.4 pounds

* If you are my friend on Facebook, you might not want to waste your time reading this post.  You've heard it all already :)

We started out our week by getting up while it was still dark and driving through the rain to Children's Hospital for Ethan's post-op check up.  And all the grey and gloom of the day was soon pushed aside when Ethan weighed in- because he is up to 30.4 pounds!!!! He's never gotten above 29 before, so this was huge for us.  He gained almost three pounds in two weeks! I am not a very emotional person, but I got a little choked up when the nurse told us what he weighs. What a blessing!

We were planning to go to a farm/pumpkin patch after our morning appointment, but today's predicted "partly cloudy skies" were doing a lot more raining than being partly cloudy this morning, so attempt #2 to go to this place was scrapped. We're hoping for Wednesday. We'll see.

And on the Vivian front, she continues to entertain and amuse us. Last night during bedtime prayers I burst out laughing and startled Daniel. Because while he was praying for Vivian, she raised her hand and said "Jesus! Here I am!" Funniest thing she's done in a long time :)

Also on the Vivian front, I've gotten her to sleep in her own bed for two nights in a row now, by telling her that her stuffed pandas (which number 7 or 8 now) get too lonely and cry when she leaves them to go sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed. She's going through a very maternal stage, so this is seeming to work, as she loves and takes care of her pandas and didn't like the idea of them being sad.  I'm not sure if that's good parenting or not, but I'm really tired of being kicked in the ribs by little toes.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


We had a couple of gorgeous autumn days here, then the grey returned yesterday afternoon. We were all sad and increased our coffee consumption.  Despite the grey and cold, I was determined to go out running this morning. I've pretty much done nothing healthy for the past 6 weeks and have instead sat around loathing myself and feeling lumpish. It's not a good thing. 

So I managed to get up on time this morning and, after waiting for the sun to finally rise around 7:30, headed out on a run.  In an attempt to NOT injure my legs (again), I'm starting over with the couch to 5K program.  I had gotten into some bad running habits before, and I'm going to try to fix those and focus on running well, rather than running further. And it wasn't a bad run this morning.  I didn't go far, but I was able to run and breathe and focus on form and I felt good at the end of it.  And when I got home I felt all energized and "hurray me! I did something not self-destructive for once!". 

Then the endorphins and coffee wore off and when I went to make my bed, it took every ounce of willpower to not crawl back under the covers. That's the problem with morning exercise for me, it makes me SO DARNED SLEEPY all day.

In other news, I'm going to my first human trafficking conference on Saturday. I'm looking forward to it, because I really do want to learn more about this topic and figure out more ways to help. But I also know it's going to be incredibly depressing and sad, so I'm stocking up on the wine and chocolate for Saturday night. Then I get to round out my weekend by going to try on bridesmaids dresses on Sunday afternoon, and staring at my round, pale self in lots of full-length mirrors. This is less depressing than talking about human trafficking, of course, but not what I would call fun or encouraging.  Should be an interesting weekend :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ah, a perfect autumn day

It's 3 PM. I'm sitting in my sun-filled living room, enjoying a diet coke and some quiet.  Ethan returned to school on the bus today (I drove him to and from school on Thursday). Since I was about to lose my mind from all the fighting and whining this morning, I was very happy to buckle him into his seat on the bus, wave goodbye, put my headphones in and enjoy a nice stroll to the post office with Vivian.  After which she napped. Bliss! 

I am kind of glad in a weird way to see the return of the bickering and shoving, as it means Ethan is feeling better. We're still messing with the timing of his feeds, since he doesn't really sleep soundly when he's getting fed through the tube, but otherwise it's going well. He's still a little slow when he bends over, but otherwise is almost back to full strength. Last week was pretty awful, so I'm glad that this week is starting out better.

In other, weird news, I had an acquaintance from church come up to me yesterday and let me know that she'd run across my review blog while looking at reviews for a play at the local children's theater. And that, my friends, is why I don't write posts for the online adult store much anymore.  Yes, I was only writing about candles and other totally G-rated stuff, but still.  Oh, and my parents found the review blog last month too, so that's another reason. 

Seriously, diet coke, a pile of neatly folded laundry, sunshine and quiet. Best afternoon ever :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Today? It kind of sucked.

Last night my parents called at the absolute worst time ever. We were all concerned because Ethan hadn't pooped in 4 days and I was rustling through my papers and trying to figure out who to call and I was annoyed at Ethan who didn't even seem to be trying.... and then my mom and dad called and I know it was a terrible conversation and I probably snarled at them.

I topped off the bad daughter routine with a psycho Mommy routine this morning, forever cementing me as the "least able to deal with things woman ever!" winner.  Thankfully, we had decided and done major car-juggling so that I could drive Ethan to school, so I got to drop him off this afternoon and Vivian and I got to go to the grocery store AND Goodwill and we were happy and felt rewarded.

Ethan also refused to be friendly with his grandparents tonight on Skype and started hitting Vivian again, but we actually see that now as a good thing, since it means he's recovering.  It's all about frames of reference, people.

I need a vacation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fanning the flames

Okay, so this is totally NOT on the topic of Ethan and his surgery or Children's Hospital. For once.  This is something that happened last week and I knew I had to write about it, but keep forgetting.

So, this takes place last Friday, at my oral surgeon's office. I had an implant placed a couple of weeks ago and had to go back on Friday afternoon for them to check it. And, since Daniel had missed work for my implant and would be missing this week for Ethan's stuff, I had to take the kids along.  It was to be a fast appointment, and we have plenty of distracting electronic devices for them to play with, so no big deal.

And the kids were good, other than spilling a cup of ice water on my lap in the waiting room and disagreeing a bit on who got to hold the toy.

So the appointment was done and we were ready to check out. And the guy at the front desk starts talking to me loudly about my kids and how cute they are, and then began to say this: "You're my hero! I don't know how you stay at home with kids all day. You're just amazing!" (Not too bad so far, right?) And then he turns to the woman sitting at the desk next to him and said "I think she's just amazing! She stays home with her kids all day!"  And THEN he says to me "(Name of the coworker sitting next to him) has a baby who is almost 1 and who is just starting to walk."

That's right! He gushed effusively about the wonders of stay-at-home moms IN FRONT OF HIS WORKING MOM COWORKER! I wanted to throw the remnants of the cup of ice water at him.  Fortunately, before he made the comment about his coworker also being a mom, I had made comments about how much I enjoy the days when my son goes to school and how it is tough and I do often miss my job. 

Working moms and stay-at-home moms have enough angst as it is, justifying our choices to ourselves and our friends and trying to figure out what works for our families, and (obviously well-meaning, but misguided) comments like this do not help.  Personally, I know that I need to be at home now, especially with all of Ethan's issues.  But that doesn't mean I'm going to be a stay-at-home mom forever or that I think I am doing a better job than I was when I was a working mom- in fact most of the time I worry that Vivian isn't getting all the education and stimulation that Ethan got when he was in daycare.  Still, this is what's right for my family right now.  But it has no relevance for what is right for anyone else and her situation.

And now I am done venting and it is 3PM and I think I need another cup of coffee to get me through the afternoon.

Home again

We finally got discharged from Children's last night around 6 and made it back home to our place around 7.  It was so nice to be done with all the hospital stuff and back where we all belonged. They took great care of us at Children's, but it's still not the most fun place to hang out.

Ethan's doing okay, but definitely is having a harder time recovering that we anticipated. I told Daniel last night that I'm really glad we had exhausted every single other option and knew this was absolutely what we had to do, because it's tough to watch Ethan be in pain on Monday and Tuesday and now just tired and not wanting to do much more than sitting.

Last night I was too exhausted to deal with a nighttime pump feeding (how quickly you lose the ability to deal with sleep deprivation!) so we held off until this morning. Probably a good thing, as Ethan finally broke down last night and spent a good 30 minutes just sobbing. Not because of pain or discomfort, just because of all he had been through in the past two days. I can't imagine being 4 and not understanding what's going on or why you're there or why you hurt. I remember being angry and frustrated after the four surgeries I've had in my life, and I was old enough to know what's going on every time.

The feeding tube does seem to be working well now, and it's WAY easier to use than the NG tube was. No checking tube placement or worrying that the tube is in the lungs or that it's too far out of the stomach.  I just program the pump, load the bag and plug Ethan in.  Definitely less stressful and worrisome than before. I'm running a small amount of food into him right now while he watches TV, then we'll start with nighttime feeds tonight.

On multiple occasions over the past week, people have asked me how I'm doing with all of this.  And I keep having the same comment, that I'm tired, but fine.  I don't know if this is how all parents feel, but I just feel like in the midst of the surgery and recovery and treatment, I don't have the time or energy to deal with my own emotions. I have to be paying attention to what's going on and advocating for my child and taking care of his needs. I'm sure there is some stress and other emotions lurking in the back of my brain, but the "what I need to deal with right now" part of my brain is not letting those through. Also, there's the fact that when you go to Children's, it's pretty likely that you're going to be surrounded by kids who are much sicker than your own. The girl that was in the same room as Ethan had been there for a month.  A MONTH at Children's.  So our two days there and Ethan's surgery didn't seem so bad after all.

In other news, Vivian has spent the past 4 days going from being alone with Daddy to being spoiled rotten by lots of relatives up in Canada to being back here with me (briefly) to being home alone with Grandma, to hanging out at the hospital for hours...and you can probably imagine what that ends up with in a 2 year old.  Reprogramming of the toddler desperately needed!  Poor kid though, she understands even less about what's going on than Ethan does.

So, spending today at home trying to get Ethan back on track and catch up with the laundry. Oh, and admire all the piles of random things that my mother-in-law folded while she was here.  She's not one to sit still or rest, so between chasing Vivian around and entertain her, she tidies up, and since my home is already pretty tidy, she's reduced to folding anything that isn't folded. It's both useful and entertaining, all at once.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday at Children's Hospital

Today was Ethan's surgery day, so early this morning we dragged Ethan out of bed, said goodbye to Vivian and Grandma and headed to the hospital.  Things went quickly from there, with Ethan soon in surgery and after a couple of hours, we were all reunited in his hospital room.  The procedure went well, but he's pretty upset about the IV and the tube in his stomach.  He also seems to be in pain, which is hard to watch.

I know we had to do this and that it will be the right choice long-term, but it's awfully painful to sit here and stare at my child, knowing that I carried him into the operating room and then when he woke up, everything had changed and was painful. 

This is one of those times when parenthood seems very real.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Trying to focus

My therapist once asked me a question- along the lines of "what is the worst part of your appointments to discuss Ethan's growth?" And without a doubt, the answer was "telling the grandparents." Okay, so here's the truth. Sometimes I've joked about the value of going straight from no kids to being a grandparent. My mom's best friend married late in life and did just that.  But the problem of being a grandparent, as I see it, is that you have all of the love (and possibly even a bit more) than a parent has, and almost none of the say in decisions.

My parents and Daniel's parents have been completely supportive about us going forward with the surgery for Ethan's feeding tube. So much so that Daniel's mom has insisted on coming down and staying with us Sunday-Tuesday so that she can watch Vivian and come visit Ethan, even though she herself is now having cataract surgery on Thursday (they're Canadian, and appointments kind of choose you, not the other way around). My  parents, who have been totally and 1000000% behind the decision, were all of a sudden sounding freaked out on Skype today when we chatted.

The truth is, I know, beyond the faintest shadow of a doubt, that my 28 pound 4-year-old is never going to gain weight on his own. He eats approximately one meal per day, which is great, but that's not even enough to maintain weight, much less gain the weight he needs.  It's just really hard being in a position where I have to be strong for Ethan and for my parents and Daniel's parents, and for Daniel, while I'm at it.  And it hurts to be away from Vivian this weekend (she went with Daniel to Canada today to pick up his mom) and know that I'm mostly going to be away from her on Monday and Tuesday as well. Sometimes I just want to be 6 years old again and stamp my feet and scream "BUT I DON'T WANT TO BE A GROWN-UP!!!!"

Fortunately, I have a lot of peace and prayers going out with us and the memory of my dear friend putting her hand on Ethan on Friday and saying "God Bless You and Keep You" as she left.  That small act of kindness and shared faith broke me down into a small fit of (good) crying on Friday. It's nice to have reminders that I am not alone, and that God loves and is taking care of my little boy.  There's a lot of peace in that.

On a related note, I have consumed approximately 2000 calories of chocolate today, and I'm pretty sure once I'm relegated to sleeping in the kids' room tomorrow night (since my mother-in-law will be sleeping in our room) I will consume at least 1000 calories more. Seriously, there should be some rule that calories consumed within a week of a child's visit to Children's Hospital don't count. Let's get on that people, okay :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The October doldrums

It's definitely October here in Seattle. Right now it's something like 53 degrees and drizzling. And the oppressive gray skies that drive us to drink lots of coffee have returned.  I'm thrilled that it's cooled off outside and inside, but I'm definitely experiencing a lack of light slump.  We've pretty much spent the whole week holed up inside, looking out at the drizzle and sighing. Eventually I will have to get over this and start venturing out of the house again, because if I wait for sunshine and blue skies, I will be stuck at home until sometime in August of 2012.

Not only have we been home all week, but I have accomplished nothing. On my to-do list: make sure everything is ready for Ethan's surgery and hospital stay, get Vivian and Daniel packed for their quick trip to Canada this weekend, clean the house before Daniel's mom arrives, work on my anti human trafficking volunteer work, send long overdue emails to some friends, plan our meal schedule for this week and next week.  What I have actually done: laundry, spent hours searching the house for chocolate, drank lots of coffee, played on Facebook. Yeah, I'm super productive and energetic.

Part of the problem is that I haven't got anything fun to look forward to.  Next week isn't exactly going to be lots of fun, and although the feeding tube should really help Ethan, it is going to be an ongoing maintenance issue for me. And I tried to plan a couple of playdates for this week and next, only to discover that everyone is on different preschool schedules and there seems to be no overlap in free time. Thankfully I think I have plans with one friend later this week- hurray for that!

Send sunshine. And chocolate :)