Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Tale of the Operation – Part 2

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Alternate Title: The Many Ways a Heart Can Ache

There is something so heart-wrenching about watching those who are already vulnerable being put through something that makes them all the more vulnerable. Yesterday we were aware of not just our own sweet girl’s struggle, but also Luke’s, Ava’s, Nicholas’, and Leighton’s. My heart ached as we sat in the waiting room with these little ones and their parents – we saw all of the kids before their surgeries, and a couple after. These darling lambs were clad in their little nightgowns, hungry and scared. It was enough to break your heart. My heart ached and swelled so many times yesterday, I probably should be icing it.

Our day started early yesterday. I couldn’t sleep after 4:30 because of anxiety, and the big one (henceforth known as Pumpkin), in a rare move, was up by 5:50. And she wanted food. And she couldn’t have food. At one point she stomped off in anger to her room, slammed the door, threw herself across her bed and burst into tears (later when we were trying to come to an agreement about what she would wear to the hospital, I reflected on these two experiences and thought
“Boy, teen behaviour starts younger and younger these days”). It was hard not to be able to feed my kid – especially when she could not understand why food was being withheld. Heartache #1.

At the hospital, while waiting to check-in, our little patient and her Dad ‘skipped to the loo’. I sat at the end of the hall and watched my little girl hold her Daddy’s hand and walk off – so cute, sweet and trusting – and felt overwhelmed with love for her, her Dad, the hospital, the healthcare professionals, any and all patients there. I just felt love and peace, and gratefulness for the moment (or my early wake-time was catching up to me). It felt like a prayer – without words. Heartache #2 (though it was a positive one).

A nurse got us all checked in and Pumpkin into her nightgown (she resisted this at first – she did not want to get into pajamas – probably felt it wasn’t dignified). Pumpkin was given a little stuffed turtle that had been knit and donated by a volunteer to help her with the experience. She and the turtle are still inseparable. Then she was wheeled into the hallway outside of the waiting room. As the nurse walked away, Pumpkin said, “She did a good job”. Heartache #3 (gratitude for the nurse and the volunteers who make the animals) and #4 (adoration for my daughter who is so aware of other people).

Then we waited. Pumpkin observed that another little girl was in a nightgown just like her and I think it made her feel better that someone else was in the same boat. She interacted pleasantly with the OR nurse who came to talk to us but was a little nervous going out into the hall to talk to the anesthetist. When her twin left the waiting room, Pumpkin said, regarding her parents, “Where did their sweetheart go?” (seriously, could this kid be any sweeter?). Heartache #5.

Then came the big one – the dreaded moment. The OR nurse came back, brightly and quickly announced it was Pumpkin’s turn and led her out the door and down the hall. Her Dad and I peeked around the corner and watched Pumpkin knock on the raccoon’s nose to open the door and then disappear into someplace we have never seen and cannot go to help her. She didn’t look back. Heart. Ache. #6.

Forty minutes later the surgeon came out to talk to us – everything had gone well and it had been well worth doing. Her airway was considerably blocked by her adenoids and tonsils and there was thick fluid in her ears. Heartache #7 – my girl has been suffering. We were told what we’d need to do to help her recover. Heartache #8 – no cookies for 2 weeks.

Then we waited and waited and waited. We had been told she would be out 45 minutes (not to worry if it was up to an hour) after we’d spoken to the surgeon. We waited over 2 hours (but we weren’t worried – just anxious to see our kid). Finally, we were called and we were reunited with our little girl. Our sweet, darling, groggy little girl. Heartache #9.

I kept it together while we went down the hall to the day surgery ward room. I kept it together while we kissed and stroked her head. I kept it together while she volunteered, “I love you too Mommy”, after she’d responded “I love you too” to her Daddy’s “I love you”. My husband got us food, we sat and ate and watched her sleep and I lost it a little. Nicholas came into the room and I lost it more. He looked so, so miserable. All these poor little sweeties. Heartache #10.

When we brought Pumpkin home the biggest problem was (and continues to be) the lack of food. Again. Her diet is very restricted and she is very hungry. When we weren’t watching her sleep, we were trying to explain that she couldn’t have a banana or chicken. She woke at 2:30 this morning and wanted food. Heartache #11.

Today our biggest problem is wondering if she is doing too much. She wants to run and play and sing. Her eyes are still purple, her nose is still trickling trace amounts of blood but she is leading Grandma around the yard in a game of King and Queen (Grandma is the King, Pumpkin is the Queen). What a kid! Heartache #12.

The Tale of the Operation – Part 1

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The count-down is on. Tomorrow morning we take the big one in for surgery – tonsils and adenoids removed and tubes put in her ears. As I was saying to someone last week, as surgeries go, this is routine – but it isn’t routine for MY kid. This could be a scary, painful experience for her – which is where my anxiety lies. No one wants her kid to hurt.

However, this is also the count-down to things becoming better for her (and, selfishly, her parents). It would seem that having a tonsil the size of a golf ball in your throat, an inability to breath well or sleep well, and diminshed hearing are enough to make a kid cranky. Who knew? Here is further insight: cranky kids are hard to handle at times. How many times have I heard, “I don’t want to calm down! NO! I’m staying in my room! Where is my teddy?!”. Then after I get the Dad calmed down, I still have to deal with the kid!

So, let the adventures begin. We pray the difficulties of tomorrow and the following recovery period bring good things in their wake. For her sake.

The Tale of the Missing Children

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Last weekend I was given a ‘get out of jail free’ overnight pass for a whitewater canoeing day trip (it’s not fair to compare my life with those in prison, I know. Prisoners get more time in the yard. And eat better).

I was very happy to get away for a little while in order to have a break, do something I am passionate about, and spend some time just being me. Then a funny thing happened.

I was waiting for my brother and our cousin’s husband (read it over again slowly, it makes sense) tie two kayaks and a canoe to my brother’s SUV (a feat of engineering which left me out of the problem-solving), so I had some time standing in a parking lot in view of my home and I started to miss my family. I thought about bolting back for a few more hugs, kisses and cuddles. I thought of how cute their pudgy little cheeks are (my kids, not my husband), how wonderful they smell (sometimes my husband), how sweet it is to hold them (ok, this one can include my husband).

From that distance my kids were perfect, my family life wonderful.

Of course, once we got rolling and I got talking and laughing on the adults-only car ride, I found that bliss of being away for a little bit. I enjoyed the time socializing, the ability to move about freely without someone pulling on my shirt, the simplicity of only having to feed myself.

My 3-year-old used to say “I want to miss you” when she wanted one of her parents to leave, or, “I don’t want to miss you” when she didn’t want to leave one parent, or didn’t want that parent to leave. She also had a few moments where, upon returning home to me after running errands with her father, she had a light bulb moment where it occured to her that in her absence I must have missed her and she apologized to me for being gone.

But I think she has it right when she says “I want to miss you”. In this era of hands-on parenting (my mother always tells me she was raised in a time when kids were ‘seen and not heard’ and she insists that is not a good thing), I need to have times where I miss my kids. It’s just safer for everyone.

My advice? Be gone enough that your children know what it is to miss you, but not so much that they say “Mom/Dad who?”.

The Tale of the Stolen Cuteness

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I recently had the following conversation with my 3-year-old (hereforeto known as “Pumpkin”).

Me: You are so cute.

Pumpkin (solemnly): No I’m not. Daddy stole my cuteness.

Me: Daddy stole your cuteness?

Pumpkin: Yes.

Me: How did he do that?

Pumpkin: He got a glass of water, put it in, and took it away.

When Daddy got home she confronted him.

Pumpkin: Daddy, you stole my cuteness.

Daddy: I did? How did I do that?

Pumpkin: You got a glass of water, put it in, and took it away (Note: her story doesn’t change – this adds veracity to her tale. It must have happened as she says it did).

Daddy: How do I give it back?

Pumpkin: You have to get the glass of water and give it back to me.

This was accomplished by me handing the cuteness bandit a half-full glass of water that happened to be sitting by the sink, who handed it to his unfortunate victim. Apparently this righted our little universe and all was well again.

Where do they come up with this stuff?

And should I have gone into a feminist rant about how we do not let men “steal” our “cuteness”? Too much for a 3-year-old?

The Tale of the Butter Dish

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Let me explain.

I was on a break from work, peacefully eating my lunch at the family table. My husband was on the other side of the table, eating his lunch and supervising the baby’s meal. He left abruptly to run an errand. The 3-year-old had an emergency trip to the bathroom and needed my help. When I returned the above picture is what I found. Somehow the 8-month-old had pulled the butter dish off of the table and onto her tray, and obviously enjoyed both playing with and ingesting the butter it contained (she cried when I took it away).

Clearly, this is not my fault. Clearly, her father should not have left the butter dish within reach of her tiny grasp. I had no choice but to vacate the room with haste (when the preschooler has to go, the preschooler has to go). It was clearly the father’s responsibility to ensure safe environs for the baby before he took off (I didn’t even know the butter dish was there! I am always low-cal, low-fat…what? No really. Ok, I am lying). And clearly, I had a responsibility to run downstairs and retrieve my phone to snap a couple of pictures as evidence before taking it away from her (thus extending the amount of time she had to revel in her conquest). Right? I have no regrets. I make no apologies (of course, he does still have a few more: “she didn’t walk across campus on my watch” arrows in his quiver, so…).

My advice? Highchair cage.

The Tale of the Pantless Escape Artist

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One unseasonably warm afternoon last December I found my 3-year-old by the door working on her independence by putting her shoes on. She had no pants on (but the shoes she chose did look nice with her shirt). I heard the baby starting to cry so I, fearing that the little devil might attempt a step out to the yard, emphasized that we do not leave the house without pants (shoes and shirts for service, but pants for leaving the house). Thinking my point had been adaquately made I tended to the shrieking babe. Upon returning to the door I found my daughter was gone. Looking out the door and windows I could not see her. Parents worst nightmare. Panicked call to her Dad. I frantically looked outside until he arrived and then we frantically searched together. Finally we received a most welcome phone call.

At this juncture I should explain that we live on a private high school campus in a boys dormitory where my husband is the boys dorm supervisor. My toddler’s Grandma also lives on the campus – across the parking lot in the girls dormitory where she is the girls dorm suprvisor. The little goober had walked to Grandma’s apartment. Across the parking lot. Where there were men in vests parking cars that were arriving for a dinner being held at the school. Thankfully one of the boys emerged from the dorm as she was walking by and, noting her state of undress and lack of supervision, correctly assumed she was not where she should be and followed behind her to make sure she was okay.When the fugitive showed up on her door step, Grandma called – the call I answered happened to be the 2nd or 3rd call.

This was a frightening experience, to say the least. And embarrassing – I keep thinking of all the people that might have seen her and wondered about the parenting skills of her Dad and I. It was one of those things that puts it all in perspective and it took me awhile to feel anything other than fear and shame when I thought of my little girl escaping on my watch (it was good for her Dad though – think of how many times he can mess up and still say, “Hey, at least she didn’t walk across campus while I was in charge”).

She walked across the campus. Across a busy parking lot. Without pants on. Sigh.

My advice? Electric fence.