Every day is a new adventure when you have kids

Day to day, as a parent, you hold the belief that you’re doing everything you can to keep your kids free from harm. Sure, there will be cuts and scrapes but for the most part, things hold themselves together fine. But when they aren’t fine and a kid is hurt on your watch, something happens inside that is more horrible than you could ever imagine.

This morning, Dakota was in her little highchair, the kind that attaches to a regular chair, and as she reached for something Isaac had, one of the supporting legs pieces buckled and the whole thing tipped over. She was on the ground, pinned under her chair, and blood was EVERYWHERE. I had literally just stepped out of view when it happened and I rushed back to right her and saw the immense amount of blood. Naturally, I panicked.

I tend to shriek in this horrible high-pitched way when things like this occur and I hate it about myself. Ash looked me straight in the eye and sternly told me to calm down. But we both thought we saw the same thing: a mangled tongue, split from biting down on it. We evaluated the situation quickly and he started buckling her into the car and I rounded up the boys and followed. I was hysterical on the very short drive to the ER. What if she needed surgery? Oh My God, she’s going to be a mute! We pulled into the ER and started checking in and she was… quiet. I figured shocked or just overwhelmed. I held her in my lap as the desk guy evaluated her but he also looked in her mouth, telling us that no, it was not split. In fact, it was just fine. It was the inside of her lip she bit.

I had to write this out because ever since then, my stomach has been in knots and I’ve been on the verge of tears every time I think about it. This child has, in her 2o months, proven that she is going to be the one to give me heart palpitations. She frequently jumps off of things or climbs on stuff with little regard for her own safety. This was clearly an accident but what if…? I had to write this to get past it. Something happens inside a parent’s body when their child seems to be in grave danger; it’s like nothing I have ever felt before. I tense up, hold stress in areas of my body, and once the danger passes, my body feels like it’s been through a gauntlet. My calves ache and my stomach is churning. I still imagine her there, helpless and injured. It’s those moments that show you how vulnerable kids can be. It’s no wonder some parents want to keep their kids in a bubble; it’s freaking scary. But I keep telling myself that she’s ok; she was happily playing by the time we got home.

Months from now, we’ll look back and remember this but it won’t strike the same chord. It will, however, serve as a reminder to be vigilant; things can happen in the blink of an eye. And these little ones are so very precious.

Absence

I’ve been finding it hard to blog this week; my mind is preoccupied. This entry will detail some personal stuff and be a bit complainy but maybe what I need is to write it out.

I know I mentioned it briefly before but I have messed up my hormones. Baby D was born in August of ’13 and I breastfed her like my other two. In late May, my period returned, which is a relatively “normal” amount of time. But then I had another one about two weeks later. Ugh. Then, it waited a normal month, I had one, then another two weeks again. But after that, I went to the doc for my annual. Though I told him about the irregularity, he said it was not unheard of. I trust my doctor and do not feel like he was blowing off my concern.

While I was BFing, I was on the mini-pill, birth control specifically designed to not diminish your milk supply. After my annual, he put me on the normal BC because I was weaning anyway. I was halfway through a pack of mini-pills but he said to start the BC. I was down to one feeding a day with her when she got sick: throwing up all night. The following day (this was mid-August) I fed her every 3 hours for the entire day and into the evening. Since then, I have not had a regular cycle. The doctor still contends this is normal but I’m starting to be suspect.

If for some reason I have become pregnant, then birth control has failed me when it never has before. I don’t feel pregnant but I am having intense back pain. My entire back from the bottom all the way up through my neck is sore. It’s a horrible feeling to be uncomfortable no matter what I do. It’s causing a headache too so that stinks. Last night I was convinced I had a migraine because I had so many similar symptoms. I woke up feeling fine aside from the back pain. It’s beginning to frustrate me more than I can explain. I hate medical issues when the answer is not clear. No one can say, “Oh, that’s the Flu, here’s some meds.” I’m not one to run to the doctor right away so I am just stuck.

I’m going to take a pregnancy test just to ease my mind. I have to know one way or the other. If you’re on birth control and not having periods, well, then, there must be some kind of medical miracle shit going on!

Meanwhile, an Advil took care of some of the pain but it’s still uncomfortable. I’m a mom and can’t just hang out on my back all day so I have got to get this fixed. If I still feel like this Sunday, I am going to Urgent Care and see if they can at least do a preliminary Xray.

So that’s what I’ve been dealing with this week. I’m tired and pushed to my utter limits and I have no end in sight. We have football and birthday parties for weeks and weeks and all I want is to feel normal again and take a damn nap.

Rough days

As we sat in the lab waiting area, she had no idea what was about to happen to her. She laid in my lap, relying on me for comfort and looking at the other people. She made little happy sounds and waited like a good girl. But then, we were called – “Miss Dakota Smith!” – and I placed her on my lap in a different kind of chair and held her legs between mine and her right hand down tight. The nurse tied a blue rubber band around her upper arm and the look on baby’s face was something contorted in horror as a small needle went into her vein and how that child did howl. It went on for what seemed like an eternity. The blood was not flowing fast enough and the sheet requested three huge vials. A second nurse arrived and helped to hold her arm at just the right angle. Once one seemed depleted, they switched to the other and that one was better. But it must have been a solid ten minutes of crying. Towards the end she was getting tired and would hiccup and stop for a second before starting again with the wailing and shaking her head no. Finally, they were done and we had to leave that place, each and every old person staring at us, silently saying, “So THAT is the baby who was screaming.”

I’m a firm believer in getting things out of the way all at once so we headed to Radiology for her bone age Xray. That was ok, considering. The building is nice and they have a play area; we only waited five minutes.IMG_20140820_083551

The scan was only of her left hand and was over before it began. In the car, Little Bit fell asleep and I realized just how stressful that whole thing had been. All three of my children had to have blood drawn when they were infants. With babies, they take it from the heel and the child recovers fairly quickly. I’ve done it; I’m strong. But this? This was ten times worse. I physically had to come down from the adrenaline that had been rushing through my body. I took a shortcut back to the daycare but there was a random bus broken down in the middle of the road, causing me to take a much longer route.

When I got her to daycare she seemed happy to see her friends; she appeared to be no worse for wear and toddled into the room and claimed her seat at the table for snack time. Feeling like that was finally over, I went on to work where I encountered more traffic issues. It was dorm move in day so I waited – I kid you not – ten entire minutes to turn a corner to get to my parking lot. I could see the lot the entire time and the one spot left. I was losing my mind! Finally, I got parked and walked up the side of Diffenbaugh towards Williams and I found myself lost amidst the hordes of wanna-be sorority girls. Thick they were, everywhere and not a lick of sense to move out of the way for people. If you weren’t 17, wearing the identical dress as 15 others, or sporting utterly non sensible shoes, you were excluded and ignored, which means I plowed through the throngs. When I got to my building, they blocked every inch of the stairs leading in and I broke. I said, “Come on now, people work here. You can’t block an entire entryway.” When some muttered, “I’m sorry”, I totally said, “No you’re not.” And I went in the building as fast as I could and got to my office. I realized I was shaking. I was upset about the baby and then all these traffic things and these stupid entitled girls and I just couldn’t cope. Sitting down at my desk to do work was the most calming, most zen experience of my morning.

Today is better. In fact, yesterday got better. Ash wanted to go to a co-worker’s going away thing right after work so even though I felt at the end of my rope (the rest of my work day was not so zen-like) I got the kids and just kept plugging away: dinner for baby, take care of dogs, make food for boys, try to be involved with them as well. I drank some beer, enjoyed being home. When Ash did get back, I clocked out.  Took a bath, read this kind of bad/kind of good YA novel called Nero, and then I did dishes and laid on the couch all. night. long.

It always seems like these sorts of things come up when my life is already so busy that I feel like one more block on the stack will make everything topple. I know it’s a test; I grew up under the pretense that God always tests us but never gives us more than we can handle. So I just figure, I can handle this. Perhaps I will get results on Baby’s tests today. Perhaps it will be something we can fix and maybe she is just small. Maybe she is petite and will become an amazing gymnast.  I don’t know what they will say but I am making sure I am prepped to handle whatever the result is. I have to, or else I’ll sit here and worry about every little thing. And that is no way to be.

 

Second son

There were about two years, right after Isaac was first born, that I liked him more than Elliot. Parents always love their children but it’s true that we sometimes favor one over the other. He was my baby and at the time, I thought I was done having children so I held onto his sweet innocence for a long time. As he’s entered his fourth year, some of his less desirable traits have come to the forefront. He’s always been a rogue, sometimes stealing food right off your plate if you’re not looking, but lately, he’s just mean. He’ll push his brother to the absolute limit and he’s not afraid to hit him if need be. He gets frustrated when Ell talks over him, which anyone would since that boy can talk and talk. But what is really irritating lately is the fact that he’s holding onto the feeling of being a baby – THE baby.

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He cries and moans over so many things. And perhaps I have vaulted him forward, ahead of where he may actually be, emotionally and maturity-wise.  Every child outgrows things at their own pace, I know this. He still wants to carry his little doggie in the mornings and as soon as he gets home from school and his major concern lately is that he’ll one day have to leave the house and be on his own. He says he doesn’t want to leave us and even though we can visit, he’s scared. I don’t ever remember worrying about this as a kid, just as I noticed Elliot is worried about having to be an adult, Isaac has similar worries.8133276423_f014f0ab70_z

 

 

I hope he can let go of that fear and just enjoy his childhood. I sometimes wonder if we’re doing this to him; if in telling him we want him to be responsible and independent he mistakes that for us pushing him out and away. I have no idea how to explain to such a young child that I both want him to understand that the world is a harsh unfair place AND that he needs to enjoy being a kid for as long as possible. I felt like a free and easy child for most of my youth and I so very much want mine to enjoy and appreciate that time. Lord knows it’s not getting any easier!14394167381_0f34dfb5d8_z

Mother and son at odds

Elliot glared at me from across the kitchen. “I WANT cereal.” he bit out, seething. We’d been going back and forth about his tone of voice and morning attitude of late. I was trying to keep my calm – I really was.

“Don’t you look at me like that…” he said, just like I would. And that is when I snapped. I gave him an earful and I just hope one day it sinks in. I feel like each day’s lessons are erased after a night’s sleep. He wakes the next day with no prior knowledge of how to behave.

“You’re almost seven years old, buddy. This has got to stop.”

“I know! But I don’t know how!”

This bothers me more than anything; it’s all impulse. And the worst part is that I can see so much of myself in him. I was that kid – sometimes – who fought just to fight, who tried to win the conversation, not realizing I was actually in a lot of trouble. And I never knew when to shut up. Pair that with a lot of rage and a complete lack of patience and he an I are identical.

In the end, I made him recount what he did wrong – which is super hard, I know – and we hugged. I love that kid fiercely but he pushes me to my absolute limits. For me, it’s this collective realization that he is no longer the laid back baby he once was but is growing into a boy. And it’s not the boy things that annoy me – not the armpit fart sounds or the climbing doorways or the crack running through his veins, causing him to bounce off walls. It’s just the incredible likeness to myself, the mirror image staring back at me, showing me my faults, that kills me, every day.

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Get off of my cloud

I find myself in an exceptionally good mood today, which feels odd. I am normally neutral or a little less than; I’d say on any given day my attitude and overall contentedness with the world sits anywhere from 40-70%. I always pride myself on maintaining status quo; so as long as everything is going smoothly and my obligations are getting taken care of, I am perfectly happy not assessing how I actually feel.  But as I said, I feel GOOD today.

BG slept all night so that always helps. We worked out last night and it was difficult but satisfying. ( I love the 13 minute mark of T25; Shaun T looks right at you and tells you that you’ve got this; just 12 more minutes and you’re done!) We also took a long walk down a different trail than normal. It’s the Fern Trail at Governor’s park. Ash used to mountain bike through there and now he runs a portion of it. We walked roughly 3 miles and didn’t even have too much complaining from the boys. They like it but eventually, get tired. At mile marker 48, there was an area where rock encroached on the little gulley below and make the water narrow but created a landing. The boys got down there and explored for a bit while I stayed above, since I had BG in the carrier. I also had the dogs. While they were down there, my two Bostons encountered another whose name was Kudzu; cute!20140325_17535320140325_175424

 

What is even more strange about my unusual good mood is that the past two days have found me being rather snippy and quick to easy annoyance. Little things got on my nerves: Ash not cleaning up the hair after shaving, dishes in the sink I failed to wash, the kids messing around at dinner. Maybe somewhere in the night, my subconscious decided to say “screw it, be happy.”

Tomorrow, at 12:31 PM, I will turn 35 years old. What is it about those kinds of numbers that make it seem much more important? 31? Not anything to mention. 23, just a random number in between 20 and 30. But count by 5s or 10s and it’s a huge deal. I don’t feel 35 so I guess that is what matters. I have a free Starbucks drink coming to me, a 10 dollar off coupon from World Market, and a free cone at Bruster’s.  I have my eye on a new pair of shoes and I plan to buy BG a bathing suit for when the pool opens. There’s a lot of stuff on my horizon and it’s almost all good. Sure, we have to do our taxes and chances are, that money is going towards replacing the pipes in our house; a huge job but one that desperately needs to get done. But that’s 35. That’s having a house and kids and living the domestic life. I wouldn’t trade it for being single or making a million dollars or being famous. Not for one second.

The fear of not knowing

UGH. Ash is driving with the boys to Orlando today and he’s not answering his phone. One of the worst things EVER. He texted me to ask my parents’ address – obviously for GPS purposes – but then didn’t answer. I can only surmise that a.) he’s on the phone with his brother, who also flies in there today or b.) didn’t hear his phone over the laptop, which is probably in the center console playing a movie for the boys. Still, I just hate worrying. I worry a lot, though maybe less than I used to. But what’s a mom to do when 3/5 of her family is on the roads and it’s raining? I’m finding it hard to concentrate on work when I don’t know if they’re ok.

On the other hand, there’s a part of me that feels alright and believe they’re just fine. I think it’s my leftover Catholic faith that rescues me here. Sure, I may not be an avid church-goer anymore but I grew up in Catholicism and having a strong faith in God. I’m not a bible-reader or a volunteer in the church. I feel bad that I sometimes treat religion like a buffet – picking and choosing what suits me. But I put my mind at ease when I pray and I always remember thinking that if I took anything away from preaching as a child, that it was the power of prayer. And whether there really is a God or not, believing that he’s got my back and won’t let anything bad happen to my family definitely makes me feel a lot better.

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Not twenty minutes after crafting this post, I received a text. They were in Gainesville, stopping for lunch. I definitely feel a lot better.

Now I can work on the myriad things in front of me. I ate me a Jimmy Johns sandwich and the day is cruising along. I am looking forward to my evening; I can’t lie. It’s rare that I’m in the house alone (baby girl won’t count tonight ;) ) so I look forward to having my own time.

 

Save as: six months old

As I tried to get Dakota back to sleep around 11:30 last night, it hit me that this is my last baby; I will never again hold one of my own tiny creatures and marvel at their small form resting in my arms. She will grow and grow and soon, she’ll be another real person running around my house, being all independent and not needing me as much. So it goes.

But I like six months; it’s a good age. She’s not cranky as much as she once was and she can interact in such fun ways now. She has been rolling from back to front for a while now but twice in the past two weeks, she’s gone the other way. Though I missed the actual action both times. She is still breastfeeding like a champ but she has been eating rice cereal for a month. Within the past two weeks, she’s also eaten: sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, pears, apples, and bananas. From a jar anyway. She loves to eat and takes it seriously. She will not smile when I smile when I am feeding her; eating is too serious of an affair for that! She is sweet and loves to be nestled in your arm on the couch, and so long as you keep one hand on her feet, she won’t fidget. She doesn’t laugh as easily as my boys did but she’ll drop smiles on you like crazy.

I am so enthralled by her and in love. But I find it so hard to focus all my attention on any one kid. It’s true you have to spread it around but I wish I could feel really dedicated to any one kid at any one time. I knew this going in, don’t get me wrong. But some days I am being pulled in so many directions, I barely have time to think about myself, my eating habits, my exercise. I’m doing a fairly good job being a good wife and giving the kids love and support here and there; I sometimes even document them with the camera – amazing! But it is a busy busy life. One I wouldn’t trade for anything.IMG_20140202_110459

On the edge of

Do you ever feel like you’re waiting for something to happen but can’t remember what it is? There’s this slight nagging feeling in the back of my mind, telling me that something is coming but I don’t know what. I can only posit what it might be: a new month? The tearing-down-the-deck project? Spring?

I stopped into Whole Foods this morning for some breakfast, because my suture removal appointment isn’t until 9:30. The “snow” day on Wednesday really threw off my motivation this week and this also doesn’t help. I have papers to grade in both classes and soon, an editing job I agreed to do for someone. Time to buckle down!

But what I really want is warm weather and to start running again. I feel flabby and kind of gross. Not that I really look forward to the pain of running but I remember how quickly things start to tighten up. It usually starts with the outer thighs and calves; they just slim right down. Then through my hips and sides, I can feel the fat melting away. My back feels stronger and I breathe better. Sadly, the leftover baby fat in the front is the last to go but this time, I plan to find some kind of ab blasting exercise to do. Pushups were working but my hand will still be off the table for a little while longer.

This weekend, we’re supposed to see temps in the mid-70s and I am doing a little happy dance for the warmth. I may have been born in Maryland but I’m a Florida girl and the cold just kills me. Bring on the heat any day. I want sunny, dry days and more than anything, I want to lay in the sun and feel it. I hate being cold! But, this brings us back to the running; I don’t like laying out in the sun and feeling like I’m overweight in the few clothes I am wearing. SO, I have one year and eight months to be in really good bathing suit shape. Totally doable, right? When Ash and I take our big Hawaii vaycay, I want to look even better than I did on our honeymoon, which was the smallest I’d been in a long time. But it will be our ten year anniversary, I’ll be done having kids/breastfeeding, and it will be high time to reclaim me.

In the meantime, I have to start small. If cleared to, I begin running this weekend. Maybe just a mile or two. But the burn in my legs  and the blood pumping through my veins will feel so good. I can hardly wait.

It’s Luke Bryan day!

In a little bit, I’ll be going home to get ready for the show. I’ll be meeting my friends and taking one car out to the Tallahassee antique car museum, where the concert will be. I’m a little nervous leaving all three kids with Ash, though he’s pretty much a pro at this by now. It’s the bottle feeding, etc for the baby that makes me worried. Not that he can’t do it but that he’ll be stressed out by it. Silly, I know. But he also might brave Elliot’s school’s Fall festival with all three and that would make me nervous if it was ME taking them. I am sure he will be fine though. Sometimes being thrown into situations is the best thing.

I hardly ever do things for myself so I need to stop feeling guilty about it. Ash goes out a couple evenings every week and I am stuck with the three. I do just fine and I know he will too.