Seasick

Tuesday, I had my boat rocked.

In my life, I’ve had my boat rocked many a time. I’m a tough gal. I’m a high-cope person. I am good in a crisis. But yesterday was different. Yesterday it wasn’t about me, it was about my child. And it sent me overboard.

Tuesday morning, Antique Daddy and I took Sean in for his four-year check-up, which unfortunately includes four vaccinations. I was dreading having to put him through the four shots, but as a family that embraces pharmacology, it had to be done. (Your philosophy on vaccinations may be different than mine, feel free to discuss it on your blog.)

Since it was just shots, I agreed to see the nurse-practitioner. Go ahead and judge me now, I prefer the doctor. I’m a doctor snob. One reason I prefer the doctor to the nurse practitioner is because the doctor is not 6’4 and 85 pounds. He does not wear pointy-toed stiletto heels and expensive dry-clean only sweaters to see children who might puke without notice. Her clothing choices do not say “I love children!” Her clothing choices send a mixed message and confuse me. Therefore I am wary of her.

The regular nurse takes his blood pressure and does all the regular stuff and then hands me a plastic cup and orders me to get a urine sample from the patient. So I dutifully take Sean to the restroom and he happily complies as if there is nothing more fun one could do than pee in a cup and put it in a little window. “Can we do this at home?” he asks.  No.

We went back to the exam room and continued with an impromptu Tonka road rally and waited.  All was well and the seas were calm.  A little glint of sun peeked through the windows.

The semi-doctor breezes into the room, stepping through the Tonka road rally in her stiletto pumps and plops down in a chair and announces with no warning that Sean has a sugar count of 2000 in his urine, that he’s an insulin-dependent diabetic, that we need to gather up our stuff and rush to the Children’s hospital emergency room and have him admitted where they can start doing tests and that he will need an insulin pump for the rest of his life and I will have to finger-stick him to check his blood sugar several times a day.

As I’m trying to take in all this information, I’m watching Sean happily bouncing around the room, the picture of health in every way. And that’s when the room listed to one side. On another day, when I was feeling well, I would have put the brakes on. But I am at the tail end (I hope) of a nearly month-long bronchial infection and my reserves are low. In my weakened state, I just sat there with my mouth open and stared at her.

With all the energy I could muster, which was none, I feebly offer that maybe it was the blueberry muffin he ate that morning or some Valentine candy from the day before.

“No,” she dismisses me, “That might raise it to 200, but not 2000 blah blah blah the sky is falling blah…” After that I couldn’t hear anything other than that ch-ch-ch sound of my blood marching in my ears. And then she left the room to call her mother and proudly report the exciting diagnosis she just made. At that point, I felt like I was being burned at the stake. Heat started steadily rising from my torso to my head. The room started spinning and I had to decide whether to throw up or pass out. And so I knelt down on the floor to make either option more convenient. 

The regular nurse came in and asked me if I was okay. I said, no, I did not think I was okay and that I needed to lie down. She suggested that I lay on the exam table, so I crawled up there and curled up in a little ball and willed the room to stop spinning. Sean, who is oblivious to all of the drama happening around him, stops sailing a Tonka truck across the floor and climbs up on the table and curls up beside me. He kisses my cheek and pats my side. “I will take care of you Mommy,” he offers. How ironic. I can’t think. I can’t feel anything except the sensation of fire.

Twenty or thirty minutes or hours pass, I’m not sure which. I no longer have a grasp on time. The not-quite-a-doctor and the regular nurse have an argument discuss how to get blood work back STAT. The regular nurse, the one with some sense, sends us to another facility to have blood drawn before we go to Children’s. She hands me paperwork. This is good. I have something in my hands that I can do. I manage to pull myself together enough to check out and get to the car, but the sensation that I’m on fire and my legs are made of jello persists.

We go to the next place and get blood drawn, which on a four-year-old, is almost as fun as four shots in the same day. And then we go home and wait for several hours for the phone to ring. We cherish the next several hours because we don’t know if they will be the last four hours of our previously normal life. We play, we pray. Priorities are reordered.

Three hours later, the nurse-practitioner calls and reports that his blood sugar is as normal as can be. She tells us that she has talked to the endocrinologist at Children’s and that he suggests that the elevated sugar in the urine is a stress response to a recent ear infection.

So then.  The semi-doctor yelled “Boo!” and is now calling to say “Just kidding!”  I feel slightly relieved, but not. I want to break her 85-pound frame in two just the same.  She wants us to come back in for a retest of his urine later in the week and another blood draw next week, but in the meantime to go on with life as normal.  I’m not sure how to do that as I don’t normally live in the shadow of a giant scary question mark.

In the meantime, I remind myself that no matter the outcome, that we will cope. That if we have to, we will deal with this as families all over the world do and have.  In the meantime, I remind myself that my God is with me always, no matter how badly my boat is rocking. 

There’s No Hugging In Soccer

Last night was soccer practice. The bleachers provide a sort of anonymous perspective from which to watch Sean interact with other children, almost like a two-way mirror.  It ‘s fascinating and at the same time a little uncomfortable to see him off on his own, interacting with the world separate and apart from me. 

As I sit in the stands, part of me is engaged in a conversation with my friend Jennifer, but another part of me is watching Sean negotiate a soccer ball and the complex social network of 4-year-olds.

I observe that he is a rule follower. He listens to the coach, but sometimes, because he is quiet, he is misunderstood or simply overlooked. He prefers to stand back, to observe, always taking the last spot in line. I do not judge these traits to be good or bad, beneficial or detrimental, they just are.

At one point in the game, I see him look up to the stands. He is searching for my face. He is not crying, but his face is twisted in a valiant effort to hold back tears. I did not see what happened. He starts walking quickly to the sidelines and then makes his way up the stands to where I am sitting.

When his eyes meet mine, the safety latch releases and tears roll down his face.

“What’s the matter?” I ask, “What happened?”

“Hoo, Hoo, Hooper (sob) Hooper (sob) Hooper bumped my HAY-UD!” (SOB)

I look at his head, to where he is pointing. There is a red spot. Where he has been furiously rubbing it.

“Well, I’m sure it was an accident. That kind of thing sometimes happens in sports,” I say. “I think you’re going to be okay.”

He works up a few more sobs and buries his face into my shirt. I can feel his wet breath and tears on my neck. At this moment I want to ask Hooper to bump into Sean again next week.

“You better get back out there or you’re going to miss all the fun,” I encourage.

He shakes his head and burrows deeper into me.

“What if I go with you? What if I sit on the sidelines, would you want to go then?”

“Okay,” he agrees. He grabs my hand and we walk to the field together.

After the game is over he runs over to the sidelines to show me the stamps the coach has put on his hands and his tummy.

“That’s fantastic! You are awesome!” I enthuse.

“Come here and give me a hug!”

I hold my arms out expectantly.

He steps back a half step and shakes his head no, ever so slightly. He looks around nervously.

He is embarrassed.

“Not now,” he says.

“Okay,” I say and I leave it at that.

Now it’s my turn to hold back tears. This day has come as I knew it would, I just didn’t think it would come so soon. And I certainly didn’t think it would come on the same day when I was wearing a blouse stained with his snot and tears.

She Doesn’t Know

There is a woman in my neighborhood who has cancer. She doesn’t know that I know.

From my dining room windows I see her walk past my house nearly every afternoon. Sometimes she is alone. Sometimes she is with her husband or her boy. She never looks up. She doesn’t know that I watch her walk past.

As I watch her walk past, I wonder if she is thinking about her mortality, about her next life, about her uncertain future. She doesn’t know that when I see her, my heart aches for her. She doesn’t know that beyond the windows I am grieving for her suffering. She doesn’t know.

When I see her, I pray for her, that she might beat this cancer, that she might see her boy married, that she might walk a thousand miles on this earth, that God might have mercy on her. She doesn’t know that I pray for her.

When I see her, I am her. 

I pray that God will have mercy on me too.  I pray that I might see my boy married, that I might walk a thousand miles.  And that maybe someone, somewhere is praying for me too.

Hands

The other night, in the wee small hours of the morning, I tiptoed into Sean’s room to check on him. I’m way beyond the days of checking on him 3 or 4 or 20 times a night to see if he is still breathing as I did those first several months of his life. Yet sometimes, something invisible gently stirs me into wakefulness and calls me to his room in the middle of the night to look at him.

Sure enough all was well. His little boy form, bathed in the amber glow of the nightlight lay peaceful and motionless.

As I turned to leave, I heard him whisper, “Mommy, will you lay down with me?”

“Sean, I didn’t know you were awake. Why are you awake?”

“Will you?” he pleaded with a desperate catch in his voice, “Will you please lay down with me? For a little while?”

“Sure” I said. “Move over.”

And so he did.

I should say here, that the bed Sean sleeps in is not really a big boy bed or even a youth bed. It is basically a crib six inches off the ground. It is so tiny it is straight out of The Three Bears and I am Goldilocks. If I contort myself just right I can snuggle up with him in this tiny bed. If I lay there much longer than 20 minutes, I can’t feel any of my limbs or walk upright the next day, but it’s a small price to pay, temporarily paralysis in exchange for snuggling.

I wedged myself in beside him. With his head tucked under my chin, he squirmed and squiggled and shifted until he had sufficiently pressed his bony backside into my tummy, just as he did in the days that I carried him in my body. He reached around for my hand and pulled it across him like a belt and then he wove his fingers between mine.

“Here’s the church,” he yawned. “Here’s the steeple….”

And then he gave up, too tired to continue.

Then, with his other hand, he covered our interlaced fingers. It struck me as an odd thing for a four-year-old to do. It was an old man sort of thing to do, this nestling of my hand, like a bird, into his two small hands.

 In the thinning morning darkness, I watched him stroke and pet our clasped hands as he drifted back to sleep. I flashed upon that day in 2003 when I first saw his hands on the sonogram – tiny, shaky, translucent fingers reaching for the light of this world and then shielding his eyes from the harshness of it.

I thought of how those little hands reached out for me as he took his first unsteady steps. I wondered how many more times he will seek my hand. Before he won’t. Dear God, bless me, that I might always be there to hold his hand and steady him as he goes, for as long as he needs me.

Then I flashed forward to the appointed day when that one clear call is for me. And on that day, it will be my shaky, translucent fingers that reach for the light of the next world and then shield my eyes from the glory of it. Dear God, bless me, that he might be there to hold my hand and steady me as I go into that great goodnight.

In that moment, and just for that moment, I felt as though I understood something of eternity.

Finally his hands stopped moving. He had fallen back to sleep. I slowly extricated myself from the tiny boy and the tiny bed. I stood over him for a moment, praying over him, that goodness and mercy will surely follow him all the days of his life.

I never tire of looking at him.

I hobbled back to bed.

The Original Perfect Post Awards – Jan 08

Deep Thoughts By Antique Mommy

Whenever I have been anywhere with Sean, where there are lots of other children, I usually come away appreciating what a good boy he is, how polite and well-mannered he is, how not-all-that-loud he is, how not-terribly-obnoxious he is, how not-that-whiney he is, how… glad I am that he’s mine.

But then recently I’ve gotten comments from several readers who say the same thing about their kids, that compared to other kids, their kids are pretty darn good.

After much contemplation, I have come to the conclusion that your kid is like your own B.O. – you just think everyone else’s is worse.

Feel free to cross stitch that on a pillow.

It Is Finished

How are ya internets? Are your tidings glad? Are your gentlemen merry and rested? I hope so. At the very least, I hope your sinuses are clear.

So then, this Christmas season, it is finished and all that remains is the lingering and warm glow of memory and little dusty sparkly bits everywhere. I must report that no Christmas has ever been more merry than this one I just spent with a four-year-old. Oh y’all, the glee!  The sqealing with delight! The unfiltered, unabashed joy! It is good for any soul that is tired or ailing.

So today then, we dismantle Christmas, sweep up the glitter, box up the trinkets and stash it all away for another year which will surely come and go all too quickly. Ah, but the sweetness and joy, may it live on throughout the year. May I reflect thoughtfully upon it in July when it is 840 degrees outside and I’ve been trapped in my house with a 4-year-old for 33 straight days.

I will be back when my housekeeping chores are done. In the meantime, here’s a post from January 2006.

Christmas Dimentia

January 6th, is the Feast of the Epiphany. For Catholics, and perhaps other denominations as well, that is the official day to take down the tree. The link suggests that as a family, we take a leisurely day and take down the decorations and then sit around a lovely meal I prepared (What? When I wasn’t undecorating?) and talk about what we enjoyed most about the Christmas season. Yes, I will do that – just as soon as I get back to the Marthaship.

Anyway, yesterday I finished the 2-day long task of taking down my tree and decorations. By two days, I mean two toddler-days. You can arrive at this number by taking 16 waking hours and subtracting the amount of time you do not have a toddler attached to your mid-thigh which is roughly equivalent to 3 hours and 15 seconds – if you include naptime and the time he locked himself in the closet and I left him there played hide-and-seek with him.

Here are just some of this years holiday decorating stats:

Number of boxes hauled out of the attic:  37 and counting
Number of trips made up and down the stairs:  57
Number of times I said I will buy no more ornaments:  7
Number of new ornaments purchased:  9
Number of ornaments broken:  2
Number of decorations that escaped packing:  1 – so far.
Number hours spent decorating and un-decorating:   Embarrassed to admit
Number of times I vowed to have a simple Christmas next year:  1.5xday/30 days = 45

In spite of these startling statistics, around mid-November, Christmas Dementia will set in again. I forget how much work it was to haul and install all the Christmas glory.

Like an old boyfriend, I only remember the good times. I look forward to unwrapping each ornament and reminiscing about when we first met. The second hour of unwrapping and reminiscing, love turns to like. The third hour like turns to tolerate. Four hours and 15 trips up the stairs into the attic, I’m throwing ornaments on the tree from across the room, hoping that at least one will stick or better, meet it’s death.

But as I stated in a previous post, all the holiday glitter and glam delights the little boy and makes it worth it the effort. For approximately 30 days. Then, somewhere around December 26th, I have my own epiphany.

The Christmas-induced dementia disolves leaving me with a sparkly hangover. My 37 boxes of old friends suddenly seem too high-maintenance. I decide I need to set some boundaries with them. And their boundaries are in the attic. And this is when I firmly state, for the 46th time, that next year we will have a simple Christmas with only a few decorations.

Here’s one last statistic.

Number of days before Chrismas Dementia sets in: 313

Photo temporarily unavailable.

The Sippy Cup As A Metaphor For Life

Sean: Mommy, I don’t want a sippy cup in my lunch anymore.

Me: Well, okay, why not?

Sean: Some of the boys at school are calling me a baby because I drink from a sippy cup.

Me: Well, did you explain to them that your mommy doesn’t like juice boxes and that you have milk allergies and have to drink rice milk?

Me: Well did you tell them that if they don’t knock it off that your mommy will come to that school and kick their four-year-old butts?

Me: Well Sean, there will always be people who don’t approve of what you do and the choices you make.  You’ll find out when you get a blog/become a parent/make a choice.

*Not a solicitation for advice on lunchbox beverages.