It All Vanishes


Posted by Kirsten Patel, Elementary Mommie-on-the-Run | Posted in Kirsten Patel | Posted on 11-10-2012

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I picked Anders up from school the other day and while I was waiting outside before the bell rang he came skipping out of his classroom with a lanky brown-haired girl. They raced towards the office together, on a mission to bring back something or other for their teacher, and I saw him reach out and fumble to take her hand. She hesitated, but gripped him amiably for a bit before they let go to swing their arms in a fist-pumping burst of speed.

He can be a loud boy, an obnoxious boy, occasionally a rude and selfish boy—but oh, he can be as tender as freshly fallen autumn leaf.

At seven years old he doesn’t have any idea that some kids might not want to hold hands and I felt a confusing whoosh of loving him so much for that gesture and being terrified that the girl would mock him for it. This age of big-little is filled with so many new things and I have chastised him, sometimes, for his tenderness, for weeping over small wounds or being afraid of movie scenes or whatever it is. Grow up, I’ve snapped.

I finished Rick Bragg’s The Prince of Frogtown last night. It’s a memoir inspired by Bragg’s relationship with his ten-year-old stepson, and towards the end, he writes,

The little boy started to fade, just like we left him in the sun too long. (…) He had been a ragamuffin, hurled into space by the seat of his pants. Suddenly, he shopped for shirts, and worried about his hair. He got too heavy to throw. (…) He turned twelve, then thirteen, and then the little boy just disappeared.
Just when you start to get used to it, to not minding it so much, it all vanishes, and the little boy you launched in the air stands at your shoulders like a man, and when you turn to say something you find yourself looking right into his eyes.
He is not helpless, not needy.
He is everything I rushed him to be.

Do you know how sometimes you read something, and it’s like the air in the room grows heavy? Like something you can touch, like you’re held fast by the words. I felt that way, last night. My god.

He is everything I rushed him to be.

The Unbreakable Bond


Posted by LaurenKelly | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 29-04-2012

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My water broke at 10:00pm. It was the first sign that my son was ready to make his entrance into this world. My husband and I quickly gathered our pre-packed hospital bags and headed straight for the hospital.  Sixteen long laboring hours later, little Gooby made his debut. When they placed my baby on my tummy, having just exited my womb, my first thought was “He is so warm!” As I examined him through the tears in my eyes my second thought was “He looks like a little rhinoceros!”  I know, it’s a strange thought to have about the looks of your first born child, but his skin was a bluish-gray, much like the color of a rhino. The medical staff immediately whisked Gooby from my arms as the cord had been wrapped around his body like a “sash”. They were concerned about his color and whether he was receiving enough oxygen. But judging by the sounds of his cries, I knew he would be just fine. I was even more amazed that if I called to him, or if my husband spoke to him, Gooby would immediately calm down. He absolutely knew us. We were already a family, and had been so, long before Gooby first felt the world’s cold air on his skin.

My mom stayed with us for 10 days to help us transition into our new roles as parents. Like all new parents, we were exhausted. We dealt with so many brand new issues like Gooby’s dehydration while we waited for  my milk to come in, and the fact that once my milk did arrive, I had no idea how to breastfeed. Also? Gooby would not stop crying. I know, I know! You are going to say all babies cry. But having had two children by now, I know that not all babies cry like Gooby did in his first months of life. Around the time my mom was preparing to leave us, she gently raised the idea of colic. I had a panic attack. Why? Because I am solution oriented. And for colic, there is NO solution. Zero. Zip. Nada.

When my husband and I went to Gooby’s 2 week check-up, we mentioned his un-ending crying. Our pediatrician casually said “Yes, he may have colic. It will subside around month 3 or 4.” My husband and I looked at each other and said “What?! That’s like forever away! How are we supposed to survive?!” When we returned for our one month appointment, our pediatrician prescribed baby Zantac. He saw that we were desperate for some cure to the colic and thought maybe Gooby had reflux. The Zantac did very little to quell the crying. He cried so much, I had no idea if his cries were because he was in pain, if he was tired, if he was hungry, or if he was just pissed. It all sounded the same to me. I cried a lot too, and around the same time Gooby started Zantac, I started Zoloft to treat the post-partum depression that had taken hold of my very being.

Being solution oriented, I sought other ways to regain some of the control we lost when Gooby joined us at home. Enter these two often controversial books: On Becoming Baby Wise and Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. I needed help, and these books provided it. Gooby was what the books called “Spirited” or “High Maintenance”. Both books preached putting baby on a predictable schedule – E.A.S.Y (Eat. Activity. Sleep. You.). YOU! After being so utterly focused on anything but myself, this sounded awesome, and it was! Instead of me trying to figure out Gooby’s impossible cues, I showed Gooby what we were going to do next. This meant he and I both felt more in control of our lives.

By the time Gooby was 10 weeks old, my post-partum was being successfully managed by the Zoloft, and I had finally started to figure out my kid. By 12 weeks old, Gooby’s crying began to dissipate, and he was sleeping up to 6 hours at night. Thank goodness, because at 13 weeks old, I had to go back to work. I remember telling a former neighbor of ours that I thought it was cruel that just when I was beginning to enjoy being a mom I had to leave my baby. My neighbor, a wise veteran dad, said “Yes, but you were able to be there for him when he needed you most.” It was true. I feel like we went to war and back together, and through our experiences Gooby and I had formed an unbreakable bond. He is my best friend. My little buddy. The little person that taught me how to be a mother – my most important accomplishment to date.

Over the last 3 ½ years, Gooby has shown himself to be precocious, funny, imaginative, smart, talkative, happy, loving, and a fantastic big brother.

We have noticed some unique attributes as well. Like the fact that Gooby never wakes up happy – instead, his day starts with a good cry. His tantrums, while normal for this stage in development, can last up to 2 hours. He is terrified of anyone touching his face, especially the doctor using a scope to look in his ears or in his mouth. This means I have avoided taking Gooby to the dentist. This leads me to Gooby’s unusual strength. He is like Incredible Hulk strong. It can take up to 4 adults to hold Gooby down for any examination. He is also floppy. When he hugs me, instead of just wrapping his arms around me, he more like melts into me. He is clumsy and somewhat uncoordinated. Last Tuesday he fell and hit his head while trying to get down from the breakfast table. He required 8 stitches, but in order to give him stitches, we had to sedate him in the ER due to his fear of anyone getting near his face. Perhaps most significantly, Gooby has trouble eating. Not only is he a messy eater (he still has to wear a bib); Gooby also stuffs his face to the point of choking. We have to watch him carefully and cut up his food up into very small pieces. And still, he chokes. He avoids tasks that require use of fine motor skills like writing and drawing, unbuttoning his pants or getting dressed or undressed himself. He has boundless energy – it feels like he goes and goes until he simply runs out of steam. And finally, at 3 ½ years old, he still drools. He drools so much that his preschool teachers change his shirt at least once per day. And no, he is not still teething. I personally do not know another 3 year old who drools like this.

It was regarding the drooling that I found myself searching, for the one millionth time, about how to help Gooby stop christening the world with his saliva. It was during this most recent Google-fest that I found a link discussing oral hypo sensitivity. An electric shock went through my body when I read this page, because Gooby fit all of the attributes described under hypo sensitivities. Why hadn’t my doctor mentioned this to me before? I mean, I’ve discussed my concerns about the drooling countless times and was told to “just wait it out.” While on this same website, I became intrigued by the other information available about Sensory Processing Disorder. After reading through various checklists, I determined that Gooby possessed enough attributes of the disorder to warrant a visit with his pediatrician. From what I understand, there is a spectrum of severity described on the website. In my opinion, Gooby is mildly affected by the symptoms he matches, though he is affected nonetheless. After reading more of the website, I started to cry. I was scared, and left wondering whether my child may have special needs.

So many people will read what I’m describing and write it off, saying things like “Oh, he is just a boy!” Or, “He is a typical preschooler.” And in so many ways, these statements are very true. But I always say a mother’s instinct is never wrong. With our pediatrician’s support, we are now embarking on a journey of discovery. A journey filled with speech and occupational therapists who will determine whether my son does in fact have a special need. I have no idea what adventures and challenges are beyond these initial evaluative steps. But I do know that I am a fierce advocate for my child, because the bond we developed in his formative first few months of life is, as I described, unbreakable. I will go to every length to ensure Gooby’s ultimate happiness in this world, and I have faith that I will succeed.