Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Self-Indulgent Complaining and Some Funny Stuff Too.

Ok, so the boys are in bed.  I can hear Louie's "Pure Relaxation", or whatever zen music a 3-year-old- with-William-Syndrome is in to, drifting from his room.  He goes to bed listening to it every night.  Sometimes he just lies beside his CD player, presses play and sucks on a pacifier (he doesn't use them during the day, supposedly) he had stashed for these moments.  He turns it up too loud, well, too loud is an understatement.  He turns it up as high as it will go and I have to rush in and say "Turn that 'Pure Relaxation' down right now!  You're going to wake your brother!"

Chris is out fishing.  I'm having Sprite and popcorn for dinner.  Everything is starting to come together with the move.  Everything except my "office" and my clothes.  Once these two things are in order I think I'll feel much more in control.  

I've been in the "nervous breakdown" type mode.  Again, as I mentioned in my last post, I'm not sure what that means exactly but it sure sounds like something I'm having.  Just the move and the trip to visit the in-laws and the surgery (though it was minor) and then the in-laws trip to our house (keep in mind, this is only 2 weeks after our trip to see them).  And then the unpacking and the whole subdivision thing - which I both love and hate.  People sure exercise a lot here.  And that!  I should put that exercise thing on my to-do list!  

I'm also feeling a lot of guilt about this last visit with my in-laws.  Bonnie, Chris' mom, and I are oil and water.  Or is it oil and vinegar?  I like oil and vinegar so it must be oil and water.  They were here Thursday night until Monday morning.  Chris and his dad worked on house stuff, such as installing a trash compactor and an ice machine.  I'm not talking about an ice maker, like the one in your freezer and the ice comes out the spout on the front of the fridge. I'm talking a full size, like say, trash compactor size, piece of equipment that fits into the counter space.  You actually loose a cabinet for the ice machine.  It holds around, oh maybe, a TON of ice. This is a big thing in Chris' family.  This ice.  All of them have one.  It's a MUST-HAVE. Chris' parents have two at their lake house.  One upstairs and one downstairs on the screened-in-porch.  I don't know, maybe this is totally normal and I'm the weird one.  I just don't see how having that much ice is going to benefit anyone.  It makes me feel really over-indulgent and guilty.  I know.  I've got some issues.  But those go way back and will have to be discussed later.  Preview - outhouses, the wooden end of a broom banging on the ceiling if showers were lasting too long - and we had to turn off the water between getting wet, soaping up and rinsing off.) 

Anyway, so this left a lot of time for Bonnie and me to "spend time together".  I will preface this by saying she has a good heart.  And I know her intentions are good.  But she is no fun.  And I'm fun-loving (really, I usually am!). She worries about wax on lemons (putting them in your water), about grease or "sticky" on just about anything and everything.  She follows me around with a mop.  She is OCD clean, perfectly pressed, perfect-white-pants person.  And I am so, so not that.  I kind of secretly wish I were sometimes, though.  

One morning,  I was sitting on the floor in the hall outside the bathroom, opening a box of keepsake type things from when the children were born and she was putting on her make-up.  
I say "I sort of get sad when I think back on Louie's birth. That time until the diagnosis was the darkest period of my life."
She says, "We knew.  We knew something was wrong and we kept 'throwing you fleeces' (I have no idea what that means; she's been known to make up sayings like this) but y'all never bit." She said that about three times.  The fleece/biting thing.  I have some hearing loss in my left ear so maybe I didn't hear her right?  Does anyone know any sayings that sound kind of like that?  
Anyway, I say, "We knew something was wrong too.  We switched pediatricians three times trying to find answers.  We followed protocol for what you do in these situations."
She says, "I'm just saying like at 6 weeks, when he was 6-weeks-old you should have been doing testing."
I say, "You can't just spend tens of thousands of dollars doing tests for the millions of genetic disorders in the world."  I think I said that.  I hope I said that.  Then I got up and walked downstairs.  
She says, "Where'd you go?" as I was walking away.  
I tell her, "Gotta get more coffee."  That really got to me.  Bad conversation.  You never want to be told that you should have been doing more for your child than what you did.  We thought we were doing everything we could for him.  

And then there's the do we have one more child question that's been hanging around lately.  I just turned 35.  I want to get the young ages behind me quickly so I'm okay with having kids close in age.  My doctor said now versus December wouldn't make a difference but if we're talking now and a few years from now, he'd definitely recommend sooner rather than later. Not that later wasn't possible.  

I have enjoyed this typical parenting experience with Ace.  I do not love Ace more.  I just have loved having this typically developing, milestone-hitting child.  I would love to experience it again.  It would be hard having three and especially with one having special needs.  But I can't help but to feel someone is missing.  That's what my heart says.  Chris' heart doesn't say anything, on the other hand.  But his brain says a lot, like, "what if we have another with special needs, what about all the time it takes with a newborn, what about money, what about how horrible you are during the gestation period?"  My brain says all those same things too.  

So, I had an OB/Gyn appointment today.  It was just your standard check-it-all-out appointment.   Unfortunately for everyone, I had both boys with me.  Louie has been home from school since he's had the stomach flu and my babysitter wasn't available.  It takes Dr. Black more than 30 minutes to get to me.  Louie and Ace were strapped in their stroller with all kinds of toys and snacks.  This worked.  For a while.  And then it didn't.  It so didn't work.   I let them out of their stroller.  They're still crying and whining but at least a little less as they begin to "explore" the room.  Ace starts eating all the snacks that had been dropped on the floor.  Dr. Black comes in and I profusely apologize for the food and the toys and the shoes strewn about and all the crying.  He was kind and understanding.  Then Louie goes over to the black and silver trashcan.  The one with a lid.  And starts opening it.  Dr. Black tells him not to do that and then looks at me and says "I just don't want him to get someones blood on him."  Yeah, me neither.  Thanks.  Seriously, thanks.  

Finally (as in OMG, I've been here forever - don't get me wrong), I'm in the stir-ups.  In the middle of the examination, gloves, long q-tips, plastic bottles and all, Ace starts screaming.  I don't use the word 'screaming' lightly. I look down to see that they had gotten in my purse and found my cinnamon Altoids, opened them and they were all over the floor. Ace had one in his mouth.  Those things are hot, you know?  Dr. Black is between my legs so I scream "He's got an Altoid in his mouth!!!"  The nurse runs over and gets my sweet little one-year-old (today's his birthday) and saves him from the Altoids.  I'm sure my visit will be remembered fondly by each and every staff member. 

Just wanted to update you all on what's been going on.   I've missed blogging and missed reading all of your blogs.  Getting back into the swing of things though.  Slowly.  Getting there.  

By the way:
Happy Birthday, my little Ace.  One year ago today you were swaddled in my arms.  We had just met a few hours ago. And I was in love.    


Monday, July 14, 2008

Looking Up. Or at Least Putting it on My To-Do List.

Do you ever look up?  I mean really sit down and look up at the sky?  I just did that and in doing so realized I never do it and it's nice.  It relaxes some muscle in your eye that never ever gets any reprieve.  No rest for that bottom eye muscle.  Just work, work and no play.  Looking forward.  Looking down.  Looking in our rear view mirrors.  But when is there ever a time to look up?  Just to look at the sky and the tops of the trees glowing in the yellow of the setting sun? Just to look at an individual leaf?  Lovely.  Lovely, I say.  However, my moment was not all that tranquil since the neighbor's (who appear to be having a patio built or something) workers are still there, even though it's almost 8:00 p.m., with the jigsaws, jigging or sawing or whatever.  

So, I've been absent lately.  From blogging.  But very much present in the middle of a big pile of craziness I call my life.  Let's start with the packing.  We packed our old house up bit by bit so when we returned from vacation, we could pretty much be packed and ready to move.  Good idea.  Not really accomplished, though.  

Okay, so the vacation.  Beautiful town (Fairhope, AL), wonderful being all together, quaint bicycle rides along the boardwalk by the bay.  But more packing.  A bag for the pool.   Pack a bag to go out to eat.  Pack a bag to go to the beach.  Then, there's the rest of the trip. Remove kids' clothes.  Apply sunscreen covering the bodies of two 20-some-pounders - with one recipient making it extra challenging by thrashing about like those stupid bass my husband is in love with.  Put on swim diaper, swim suit.  Don't forget, pack a bag.  Swim.  Back to room. Remove swim diaper and suit.  Put clothes back on.  Pack another bag.  Take off more clothes. Eat.  Pajamas.  Pack a bag.

Louie recently started his first day of public school.  I expected it to be a little sad.  Maybe a misty-teary-type moment or two.  I did not expect a full on melt down.  That's me; not Louie. Me.  Completely freaking MELTING-like-lava down.  Louie is in a self-contained classroom. All of the children in his class have autism. We'll discuss this on some other post.  I know self-contained vs. inclusive classrooms for children with special needs is a controversial topic among educators and parents alike.  

Louie's school has a balanced calendar and the longest break is June and July when they are out for six weeks.  During this six week break the teacher holds two weeks of class (shortened school day).  The extra weeks work out to be every two weeks during the break so that the kids aren't out of school for more than a two week period of time, as children with autism need routine and can quickly regress without constant interaction, guidance and instruction.  

Louie's first day was the first week back from the regular school year, during one of these "extra" school weeks.  In the interim, between the regular and "extra" school week, the classroom was moved down the hall to a bigger room. As you may or may not know, children with autism don't like change.  At all.  So here they had been out for two weeks and then when they returned, everything had changed.  Not happy. Lots of stimming behaviors, lots of repeating phrases and words, lots of just plain losing it.  Every kid was in full on "I HAVE AUTISM" mode.  I thought to myself, "This is not the place for Louie.  This is wrong, wrong. All wrong!" ("Hello, Denial.  Where have you been lately?"). Everyone, all the kids, Ace, me - everyone was crying.  Except Louie.  He was fine.  Thank God. Seriously, thank God.  If he would have been crying too I'm pretty sure I would have taken him and ran far and fast. Instead, I just grabbed Ace and ran to my car, both of us crying like babies; at least he had an excuse being a baby and all.  So I drove home sobbing and messy crying and my whole stomach just convulsed from it all.  I'm telling you...this was a major freak out.  

But, alas, there is good news.  When I picked him up that afternoon, he proudly walked out in his walker (this is big deal), smiling, the happiest kid ever.  He used to lose it when I showed up to get him at preschool. Just cried and clapped for "more" when he saw me until I picked him up.  He doesn't do that here.  It's totally and completely where he needs to be.  He's already made a ton of progress.  It's his place.  They have visual supports everywhere in the classroom.  It's structured with a ton of teacher support.  He's in his element.  His element. Not mine.  I understand that now.  

Okay, so then there was my appendectomy.  That's a boring story.  It just happened one night at 4:00 a.m.  There was only one memorable moment and it was right before I was about to go to surgery.  Chris wasn't able to be at the hospital with me since someone had to be with our kids, right?  He and Ace came up for a minute and was able to talk to me right before I went in (Under? The knife? Whatever. Yuck.); I guess to say hello/goodbye in case I kicked the bucket during surgery. Then he left to go pick up Louie from school.  And there I was alone on that white railed bed with curtains on each side and other patients on either side of those curtains.  Here's where it gets blurry.  Oh morphine, you silly, silly, where-have-you-been-all-my life drug.  Just kidding.  That morphine.  Isn't it just awful?  Anyway, the anesthesiologist (I'm pretty sure that's who he said he was) came to talk to me and sat down by my bed.  I told him I was afraid. He said he understood.  His kindness was reassuring. Or maybe it was the drugs because right after that they said my name and it was over.  Is that a bizarre feeling or what?  There ya have it.  Appendectomy.  Check.  

Oh yeah and it has to be said that I thought I was going to die the next day when I had some kind of delayed reaction to the anesthesia and threw up every 15 minutes for 5 hours.  Keep in mind this whole time we're trying to figure out when we're closing on our house, still packing and all that.  Well, I say "we" but really it was just Chris since my head was in a trash can.  He was taking care of the kids, me, trying to check in with work intermittently, all the house stuff.  It was a lot for him all at once.  He came in during the middle of my puking my organs out and said "I'm about to have a nervous break-down." (P.S. Seriously, what is a nervous break-down because just judging by the name I would say I have one of those about every day.)  Anyway, I just remember trying to talk and reassure him but all I could do was move my mouth.  No sound.  Okay, so really, that's the end of that story.

We've moved into our new house.  I'm not going to bore you with all the gory details.  But I did realize during all of this is that moving is one of those things in life that you just simply forget how very bad it is.  And then when your friends complain to you when they're moving you just kind of tune them out and mumble something like, "Mmmm...that stinks for you.  Sorry."  Kind of like how you do when people tell you their dreams.  Except I like to hear Chris' dreams. They are interesting to me.  Speaking of dreams, I have to tell you (I know, I know), the other night I had a dream that Ronald Reagan bought me a portion-sized box of that cereal Pops.  It was 10 cents.  He got one too but he didn't have to pay for his because he worked for the government. And this all took place in the convenience store next to my elementary school.  Hmmm.  I don't know what to tell you about all that.  Oh yeah, we got milk too.  A small pint-size.  

I feel like I have so much more to tell you.  But as you can see in the pictures, I just simply can't live like this anymore.  This chaos.  This asking "where's that ointment for Louie's rash?"  "Hey, Jenny, do you know where the meat strainer thing is?"  "Have you seen the nail clippers?"  It's got to end!  It's true as with anything in life.  Some people are better at things than others.  Some are better movers than others.  I've come to realize I'm not so good.  I thought I was organized; that I'd labeled each box with such specifics.  How could I have been so wrong?  So very, very wrong?  I have a friend who I witnessed, who I saw with my own two amazed eyes, move in to her new house in the morning and was serving chili to a crowd by evening; kitchen completely organized and put away.  She's good that way though.  

Well, I'm off to get organized.  Find some order.  Put away some clothes.  Consolidate my to-do list. But I'm also going to try looking up more often.  At the sky and the trees and the birds. You know, exercise that bottom of the eye muscle.  And not let all the moving and school and the packing of bags make me forget about occasionally just looking up.  There's cool stuff up there.