Friday, May 28, 2010

Things I Don't Need: a sequel that (thankfully) lacks "oomph."

This morning, as I returned from early morning therapy (might work better than the afternoon session, time-wise), I found a note on my van. The van had been parked a few houses down the street in order to facilitate the moving of large items into the garage. I had planned on moving it back in...eventually. The note read

"I hit your car. Please call me. {number} {name of neighbor}."

Oh, you hit the car? (looking around) I don't see anyth-- HOLY CRAP.

It's BAD. Going to need some major body work around the driver side, in front of the door area. The door opens, but poorly.

He is involving insurance. Hopefully this will be a pretty easy fix. Even if it takes awhile.

I know the guy too. When I called him in response to his note, I told him that I had met him at our other neighbor's party in December and that I was in 2nd grade with his son.

But compared to some of the previous entries in the "things I don't need" series, this is small potatoes. Because you see, it isn't cancer.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Run Away

While it feels nice to deal with typical 2-year-old problems, I'm at the point where I need some help with this one.

The Boy has developed a habit of running from me. Pretty much whenever he gets the chance. He does it when I am attempting to strap Meatball in his carseat. Or, in the house, when I am trying to dress him. Or in the yard, when he decides that he'd like to go for a walk. Or in a restaurant, when he decides that he is bored.

Not going on outings for the next several years certainly occurred to me. However, that's not much fun.

I know that this is a typical two-year-old problem. And I know that each situation may have its own solution. Today, when I was at a restaurant with a friend and her daughter, I bit the bullet and put The Boy in a high chair instead of letting him sit in a regular chair, as he has usually done. When it is an option, I don't mind walking The Boy around in a restaurant while we wait for food. As for getting dressed, there is only so much space in the house, and it isn't too tricky to get him while still keeping Meatball safe.

But what in the world do I do when I tell him to stay with me while I put Meatball in the carseat and he just takes off? When I can use the stroller, I do, because he'll stay in there. At least long enough to get buckled. But if I'm carrying Meatball, I have to put him down before taking care of The Boy. In both cases today where he ran off, he ended up halfway down the block. The second time, he was picked up by a very understanding woman (who has little kids of her own) and delivered back to me.

Plenty of people who otherwise don't find spanking to be effective will employ it in cases like this. Not gonna lie--it crossed my mind. But I don't see it working with The's as if he waits for his moment and exploits it, and spanking won't change that. There are also various baby-leashes, and I just don't see myself doing that either. It's degrading for both of us. Not that I care what people think, but I don't want people seeing me using a leash for my kid.

I think I just have to be more vigilant, and more careful, whenever I am trying to take both kids out somewhere. I have to put Meatball in the carrier more often, or use the stroller when I need to and even when I think I don't. And if I think he needs to sit in a high chair at a restaurant, then that's where he will sit. He really didn't complain about it this afternoon, truth be told.

I want him to be a big boy. I want him to be able to grow up and make good decisions. But he's a 2-year-old. Despite the fact that he possesses the capacity to do things like sit in a regular chair at a restaurant, stay next to me when I ask him to, and take himself to the bathroom instead of pointedly pooping on the floor whenever I'm not paying attention, he's not going to do it just because he can.

It's a power struggle.

But the mistake that I won't make, because I'll just become an angry harried mom, is trying to struggle with The Boy. I need to get ahead of him and act, rather than react. That's my job. He just needs to do what he's going to do and I need to set him up for success.

Even so...I would always appreciate suggestions as to how to stop him from running away.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It goes around, it comes around

I've always held the belief that there are very few quick fixes, and even something as simple as taking cold medicine comes at a price. One of my friends told me, many MANY years ago, that while cold medicine does offer some relief, you're really just pushing the symptoms off rather than allowing your body to work through the virus naturally.

Another typical example of payback might be the hangover. Drink too much? You wake up feeling like crap.

Sometimes you're trading one problem for another. My husband suffers from allergy-induced respiratory issues. He is feeling the effects of the great outdoors right now and was debating whether to take Benadryl before bed. If he takes it, he wakes up feeling fuzzy for awhile. Fortunately, he rides the bus to work. If he doesn't take it, he wakes up stuffy.

Obviously, there has to be a cost-benefit assessment with every choice made. It wasn't too long ago that they made it acceptable for drug companies to advertise on television. It is exciting to watch--they talk about this wonderful fix-all-better pill for 10 seconds and spend the rest of the time talking about the side effects. Your acid-reducer is going to give you diarrhea and make you anemic? Oh boy!

My favorite (or least favorite) example of the perceived fix-all-better is the epidural in childbirth. I don't understand how it can be painted as so easy. Even when the laboring mother first gets it...I've never had one so I don't know, but from what I've heard, it sounds like a pretty awful experience just to get it in there. Cost-benefit, as painted by the medical professionals: it is uncomfortable, but once you have it placed, you get to just sit there and wait to push your baby out. And if you have to have a C-section, oh well, that's pretty routine anyway. The hospital where I had my boys had something like a 50% C-section rate. Granted, some mothers go there specifically because they are higher risk, and I suppose that some of those high-risk cases result in C-section more often.

I have heard a few different stories over the past few weeks. One was an older woman marvelling at how easy it seemed to be, her daughter's birth experience with epidural, and how wonderful it was. She said she couldn't believe that people would choose any other way; I told her that I had done it without the drugs and it was perfectly fine, and the epidurals can cause more problems than they solve, so I was glad that her daughter didn't experience any issues. Another was reading a friend's horrible birth story, where she was stripped of her dignity the moment she entered the hospital, coerced into getting an epidural, and ended up with a C-section. Yes, she ended up with a healthy little nursling at the end of the whole ordeal (including an infected incision).

Why, though, are mothers treated so poorly? Why are we expected to lie there and have someone "deliver" our babies?

Why don't we take some initiative and THINK about the choices that we make? For every action, there is a reaction. For every pill, a side effect. For every caffeine jolt, there is a crash. And let's not get started on the foods that we eat. Sometimes, a headache caused by dehydration should be cured with water, not medication.

Sometimes, medication is the thing that does the trick...but beware the side effects.

I'm a cancer mom--I'm very aware of side effects.

What Happens During An Epidural

Informed Parenting on Canada's rising infant mortality rates

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Getting warmer...

It is a nice feeling that the temperature around here is starting to get to the point where the children can wear shorts. The Boy likes shorts. I like the way that he says the word "shorts."

He's doing well. And if you ask him how he's doing, he'll say "doing well!" He even will initiate conversations with people by saying "How are you?"

The potty thing is working for us, albeit slowly. Individual days, or individual pockets of resistance, are still difficult. But then I look at where he is now even compared to last week, and he's made progress. We went on an outing today and he stayed dry almost the whole time despite several visits to the restroom. He had an accident near the end, but it actually corresponded to him playing somewhere with lots of water that had collected, so he'd have needed a change of pants regardless. I still maintain, and if you are a parent of a child his age or even as much as a year younger this may be the impetus you need to get your kid started, that we are at worst breaking even in terms of work required and amount of cleanup required, keeping him in diapers vs. having him wear underpants.

Actually yesterday, since the weather was lousy, we stayed inside all day and he wore no pants at all. He had only one accident and just about every other potty visit was his idea.

I even asked him a few days ago, when I was frustrated and preoccupied and he kept having accidents, if he wanted to go back to wearing diapers. No, he said, he wears underpants.

Meatball is still about the same. Happy, healthy, growing, eating. Playing, smiling, crawling. Not walking yet, but it's early yet. Neither Musical Daddy nor I walked before age 1, so we have no reason to believe that Meatball will do so. Talking...maybe. Sometimes it seems as though "Mama," "Dad" and "Hi" are said intentionally.

Musical Daddy is making it through his job. He is doing exceptionally well, given the circumstances (he's a sub for a sub for a sub for a teacher who retired, so he's the fourth person that these kids have seen for math). His colleagues like him, and the students like him too, as much as they like anyone and will do work for anyone.

We're looking for work, preferably teaching music. I had an interview last week but received a "thanks but no thanks" letter in the mail. Perhaps I need to review my stock questions for an interview and make sure that I know how to say the right stuff. Perhaps I was dressed funny. Who knows? There was only one other person there for the job, as far as I can tell, and they must have picked him. Honestly, I thought that I had it all over this guy--better credentials including an M.Mus., better job history and experience, not to mention that I'm more easily accessible, living 5 minutes away from the school. It isn't even June yet, so I shouldn't worry TOO much, but even so, I'm just not feeling very lucky.

We also could use work for the summer. Not sure how to find that, though. I was contacted about teaching lessons to one kid. If I can get a few more, that might be enough. Problem is, people hire for summer work in January. And in January, we were a little preoccupied.

I just have to remind myself that no matter what is going on, NOTHING could compare to the absolute pit of despair that was our lives during the second half of 2009 and the beginning of 2010. We thought the worst, and rightly so, when we were told that there might be more cancer. Then we got the reprieve of all our lives (particularly The Boy's life!). No matter what happens, no matter what anyone says or does, no matter who tries to bring us down, it's peanuts compared to what was going on in our lives before.

If that doesn't make sense, well, that's unfortunate.

I was asked "what would your students say about you?" in that interview last week. I guessed. Maybe I should ask them.

Musical Daddy has been watching the Lost Finale for the past few hours. They have pre-show stuff and post-show stuff. I hope he has extra coffee for tomorrow. He has also been cleaning up the living room.

This week I will finally straighten out some lingering car issues. And try out therapy early in the morning instead of the afternoon. A few other things, but beyond that, my main focus will be on the boys. Because they're the most important.

Friday, May 14, 2010

End of the WORK week

Potty training is NOT easy.

The Boy has done well. I'm not sure how much progress we've really made from Monday to now, seeing as how he still isn't too thrilled about being taken to the bathroom, but he is unlearning old habits and replacing them with new ones. It is going to take him a bit of time. He woke up dry this morning and then was taken to pee, but we're probably not going to touch the night training thing yet.

I'm sure that if I had waited, it would be the sort of thing where he was "ready" and did most of it himself. I get that. But he was ready enough to the point where instead of carrying him off kicking and screaming for diaper changes, I carry him off kicking and screaming to the potty sometimes, and other times he is fine with going. He is reliable enough to be able to go out for at least awhile without needing to go and we are getting him used to going in other places. Since we are past the point of "breaking even" in terms of time investment, and mess, we're sticking with The Boy being trained/in the training process. Over the course of time, he'll get better at taking himself to go and trying even when he doesn't think he needs to go.

Tonight, we take him out for ice cream. Or Rita's.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Potty: The Win Column

Caution: this is one of those posts in which a parent is talking about child toilet habits.

End of day 3 of potty training. I'll say that the amount of fighting that The Boy does hasn't decreased, and he has not often taken himself to the potty but instead was taken by me. But he has stayed dry/clean for most of the time, and we have even left the house. I want him to get used to the idea of having underpants on instead of a diaper, at least during the day. He had one full accident today and one partial accident. Oh, and one super-fun incident where he didn't really get the directional issues of sitting on the toilet and there ended up being a puddle 3 feet in front of him.

He doesn't want to do it. Why should he interrupt his playtime? Of course, when he is trying to throw a tantrum, his body doesn't allow him to go. Once he relaxes, he goes. And even if he doesn't go, I can now see what he is doing when he is actually trying to go and legitimately doesn't have a need. So I tell that he stays on the potty until he gives it a good try.

We are teaching him new habits. Instead of diaper changes before leaving the house, it's potty visits. When we go somewhere new, we find the potty right away and use it. We come home and go to the potty. We try before lunch. And after lunch. It seemed as though he would have a lot of accidents at the table, simply from not paying attention, so we focus on that. If he hasn't gone in awhile, we try.

We are still at the point where he could throw fits and insist on diapers. But I don't want that, because I have committed to getting us all in the mindset of, "He's too big for that." It will be a LONG time before we have to stop bugging him to go as frequently as we do. I don't know exactly when he will be considered "fully trained." I never thought about it this way until recently, but most children are not independent in their toilet habits in an instant. We have to think a lot about our children's pottying until at least age 4 even though they take care of most of it themselves, and even after that, we have to check and double check with them to make sure that they have appropriate bathroom breaks. It's a process. One day I'll realize that The Boy is taking himself to the bathroom rather than having me suggest it. I'll know that I can take him places and know that he'll tell me when he needs to go with enough time for us to find the bathroom. It will just happen that way. But it is a process, not a singular event.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Potty: 6 and 2

Lesson learned: when getting serious about potty training and taking your kid to potty frequently, don't let them out of your sight or get preoccupied with cleaning and such. You might end up with a big mess.

I was going to wait an extra week, but there really is no time like the present. Basically, I'm taking him every few minutes until he goes, watching him for signs, and, of course, heaping on the praise. I'm less enthusiastic about tangible rewards, at least not for every time. My preference is to give him things sometimes so he doesn't expect it. Besides, I still think that he doesn't understand bribery.

I am proud of him for spending the entire day in underpants. Six number ones in the potty; unfortunately he missed 2. And they were twosies.

He fights me. He doesn't want to go. I have to "force" him sometimes, but I am consistent and gentle with him. I don't show him anger, even when he fights me.

I think that we could have done this earlier, if we were willing to treat resistance as we would typical tantrums. It's also a matter of me convincing him, and myself, that he CAN learn to go without diapers. This part is actually more difficult and more inconvenient than having him in diapers, because right now we don't really go many places, and particularly when it is just me and the boys, I have a hard time managing Meatball as well.

And if it hadn't been for stupid cancer, we would have started before he got quite so stubborn. Live and learn...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Just like the "good" old days

I gave The Boy some Imodium (his doc has previously advised us to give this to him). It was green and minty, and he was NOT interested.

Yet, I got him to swallow just about all of it. Not without fighting. And, of course, before I gave it to him, I explained what it was and what it was for. As if he cared.

After he fought me about this medicine, and he took the medicine, I gave him hugs and told him again that the medicine was to help his stomach feel better.

I haven't had to fight a screaming Boy to give him medicine in a long time--usually it's "Yay! Medicines and bears! I love medicines and bears!" meaning that his standard medications are inoffensive enough and he loves his vitamin and calcium bears.

It is surprising, then, that I remember as well as I do how to get a resistant child to swallow medicine. I am also glad that I didn't get upset with him or lose my temper.

I also give shots pretty well...maybe a career change? Not likely. Particularly not with the hours that nurses typically have.

But then again, I find the prospect of finding a new music teaching job rather daunting. And what could compare to the job that I had?

Anyhow, it's time to put The Boy back to bed. Good night, friends on the interwebs.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Stick together

Our therapist, during our biweekly meeting, reminded us that it is essential for the health of the family that Mom and Dad have an emotionally healthy relationship. Meaning us.

What, we go to therapy? We aren't going for couple's therapy per se, because our relationship has fared amazingly well despite forces that might have had a negative effect. We, as two cancer-parents, have a lot of issues through which we need to work on the road to normal. What, you haven't been in therapy for almost two years? No, but it couldn't have hurt.

Anyhow, I keep this in mind when dealing with The Boy. I remember it also when negotiating with others over parenting issues that ate, in the long run, not so significant. Not that we want to go against our own parents or other family members just for the sake of being contrary, but the MOST important issue, when parents make a decision, is that they have conferenced on the subject and present a united front to the child.

It is difficult, because some decisions are made on the fly. What can and cannot be served at dinner, whether bedtime is NOW or whether it follows one more book or game or show.

Even so, it is important for the couple, the parents, to meet their emotional needs through each other. Not their children, not their parents. Yes, Parents do meet emotional needs in children but the difference is clear, or should be. Then the relationship will be better able to survive things line the baby phase and resultant sleep deprivation. And, furthermore, the fact that children require so much physical attention may leave mothers (usually the mothers) feeling touched out; even so, a strong relationship survives. Or, as in our case, the stress of caring for a sick child left us drained, yet we knew that we were there for each other.

Meatball is 10 months old as of Wednesday. Just past The Boy at the age of his diagnosis. Everything that he does is new now, even though he is our second child. He is really interested in walking. He climbs stairs really well. Loves to eat, of course. Loves to nurse, although we have had as few as 4 nursing during the day. And rarely does he nurse at night. Of course, I wish that sometimes he would want to sleep in bed with us but he has no interest. Would have been nice last month when he would not sleep in the pack n play.

Two potty hits today for The Boy. One was a stealth pee; the other was a big yucky poo right before bed. We may need to watch his diet, or perhaps we have a stomach thing, or both. Point is, he actually said he wanted to go and did. I'm very glad that he isn't scared to poo in the potty. Cup peeing, here we come!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Clean Sweep

N.E.D., everyone!

That's "no evidence of disease" for those who were curious.

Basically, it means that The Boy had clean scans!

Also, he is down to one medicine, once a day.

Plenty of typical kids take a medicine at some point.

Wow...starting to feel even more normal.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Score one for the revolution!

This morning, The Boy got downstairs before I did. He had already been in to visit Grandma, who had done him the courtesy of removing his wet night diaper. I was getting dressed and then had to get Meatball, who was awake (though content). When we arrived downstairs, The Boy was going through the drawers in the bathroom and had picked out a pair of Elmo underpants. I'm thinking, oh crap--where's the puddle?

Turns out, he had taken himself to the bathroom and had gone in the Elmo potty. Himself!

Breakfast was also pee-free.

Unfortunately, as I cleaned up from breakfast, he had wandered off and in the few minutes had gone poo in his Elmo underpants.

Can't win 'em all.

But that is HUGE progress, that he went by himself with no prodding or cajoling on our part, just a suggesting several minutes earlier that he might want to try.

Scan results come today, so we're probably just going to stay home.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Big Day in Medicine

CT Scans AND Nephrology today. Long afternoon.

We've learned, now, that we don't need or even want to schedule two appointments on the same day, because what's the point? We live close to the hospital and it's not that difficult to just show up on two different days.

So the CT procedure at this hospital is, they have patients stop eating 3 hours before. The patient arrives two hours before. Then the patient has to drink the contrast. They mix it in a drink and divide it up into three cups. The patient is in a room doing nothing but drinking this stuff. If The Boy were an older child, he'd just drink the cup at the designated time and spend the other 29 minutes of each half-hour doing whatever he felt like, but naturally, it was a bit of a production and he didn't drink all of it. He did okay, drinking more than half, but it took a bit longer than we thought because the people over in radiology were debating how much was really enough...

It's not too much fun.

But the nice thing is, he doesn't need to go without food or drink for any real length of time because they don't sedate him.

The CT was VERY easy, particularly since I brought Toy Story (knowing that they have a DVD player and a TV above the CT). This is his current favorite film. The Boy didn't even complain, because all he had to do was lie there and watch his movie while the machine moved him in and out a few times.

And when he was done, he got a pirate hat.

THEN up to nephrology. Blood pressure is good. He's having the dose of his Enalapril dropped, so we'll only give it in the morning. He also might not need the Bicarb anymore. Tricky thing about the Enalapril is that while it does protect the kidney in some ways, it also can skew the creatinine level, which was measuring high today. His last blood chemistry showed normal levels of electrolytes, including potassium.

He needed a blood draw in the lab, which I figured, so I had them leave the port accessed from the scan. But then, we had to go to the lab, which was in a different location. Only to find out that the people in the lab do not do blood draws from ports. They have to call the IV team.

Really? Are you serious? Never mind that I could easily do it MYSELF if I had the proper equipment in my hands.

The good news is that during the wait for the IV team (which never showed up), The Boy did produce the urine sample. In the bag.

The bad news is that since I was sick of waiting for the IV team, he had to get his blood drawn from his arm after all. But I should have known better--that's what they do all day, so they don't really have trouble with it.

We get results from both the CT scan and from the lab tomorrow. I'm trying not to think about it too much.

Two successful potty visits today! The first was, The Boy woke up at 6 AM and he wanted a new diaper. I convinced him to go to the potty, and although there was a little bit of poo in it, a LOT more went into the toilet. I'm pleased that it wasn't in either a diaper or even in his little potty, because cleanup would have been a major pain. The other was a pee right before his bath. Unfortunately, I could not get him to pee in a cup today. Maybe next time.

Tomorrow might be nice out, after some rain in the morning. Maybe we'll do some fun stuff to keep our minds off of scanxiety.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ah, industry...

Now I know I'm a giant hippie, because I keep seeing these ridiculous ads online for baby stuff and getting irritated.

"The Gerber Generation." Gerber food is processed crap, and the more I hear and the more I promote finger food over purees and cereal for babies starting cereal, the angrier I get about parents and doctors being duped by stupid baby food companies. And their stupid jars of crap. And packages of crap. And of course, Gerber was bought by Nestle around the time that The Boy was born, so "The Gerber Generation" includes Nestle baby formula.

And, as usual, because of our culture being a formula-feeding culture despite the still-fledgling attempt to encourage mothers to feed their children as nature intended, I have to include the usual caveat that some mothers have to use formula for one reason or another and that I don't mean to judge mothers who legitimately have trouble breastfeeding. Which is true, but since this discussion isn't so much about formula vs. breastfeeding, I'm exasperated by the fact that if I don't say something to that effect, someone will pick on the post for being judgmental about formula-feeding mothers. I guarantee it.

Anyhow, I have seen the ads recently about "The Gerber Generation" and I stick my tongue out at them. The messed-up thing is that SO many parents think that because Gerber is a baby-food company, everything that they make is obviously healthy and is ideal for babies. And they have that same picture of a baby that you grew up with, so obviously it is a wholesome company. Gerber food is expensive, processed, and the icing on the cake is that Nestle owns them, and Nestle's aggressive marketing of formula in developing countries has been jeopardizing the lives of babies for decades. So by purchasing this Gerber junk, you are supporting the promotion of formula to families that can't afford it, when breastmilk is free and can't be contaminated due to lack of clean drinking water. Way to go.

Also, did you know that the same people who make Huggies disposable diapers and Pull-Ups also make Depends undergarments? So a person can spend so much MORE time creating disposable diaper garbage thanks in part to the Kimberly-Clark company.

No thank you to the Pull-Ups, by the way. I have enough trouble convincing The Boy that he can't pee in his underpants without making a puddle. Pull-Ups are just a diaper that slides on and off in a slightly easier fashion. For educational purposes, we'll just have to keep the puddles.