Sunday, January 31, 2016

This Week in Blog History...

I'm feeling under the weather (again) today, so I'm doing a cop-out (but still fun) post looking back at where we were in late January-early February in the history of the blog.  It's always fun to look back.

But yeah, in present time, Jacob went to sleep in the bathroom with a terrible stomach ache last night, and yet I was the one who woke up feeling a little off in the middle of the night.  Luckily it stayed south, if you know what I mean, but it wasn't the best night.  Today has been a very slow progression of food, and while nothing more has happened, I still feel a little off.  Craig wasn't feeling too well either, but ironically, Jacob was fine.  We really just need to get healthy around here. We've had three straight weekends with some sort of illness.  Better than weekdays, but still. 

Without further ado, let's see where we've been...

2008 - I was in the midst of adjusting to my growing baby belly.  I was finally getting to stock up on some maternity clothes as my usable "regular" clothes were starting to get too small.  Every piece I found was a little victory, especially when they were on clearance!  I was also starting to be sure that the flutters I was feeling were really baby movement.  That was so fun--one of the few things I miss about pregnancy!

2009 - Jacob's teeth were starting to come in, which was causing him a lot of pain and all of us a lot of interrupted sleep.  We were also dealing with his nasty cough/respiratory illness that bothered him for about nine months in all.  We had to use the nebulizer, which was so challenging with a squirmy baby who couldn't understand why we had to put this thing up to his face.  We were also still trying to make solid foods more of a regular thing, since Jacob was really resistant to them early on, and it seemed we might be making some traction. 

2010 - We were fresh off a weekend trip away from Jacob.  He stayed with my parents and I went up to Toronto with Craig for a Knighthawks game.  Man, we really need more of that kind of time away now.  Jacob also got his first experience playing in the snow while we were at my parents' house!  We were also going through another round of teething, which was causing more interrupted sleep.  We were dealing with nasty diaper rash and extreme dry skin, too.  Winter does not do my boys' skin any favors, apparently.  At that point, Jacob was already starting to walk around with a hockey stick all the time, which was a regular thing for a long time after.  Finally, we were going through the stress of trying to sell our house and prepare to move into the house we're in now.  Our second deal was in place after the first fell through, so we were hopeful this would be it!  Thankfully, it was.

2011 - Jacob had just been diagnosed with strep, which was apparently after many other strep tests over the course of the winter.  A sore on his face was our only sign that time, and I often refer to that as my introduction to the world of weird kid symptoms for strep.  They're never what you think!  We were also in the healing stages of his first-ever surgery, the one to remove an irregular mole from his leg.  That went pretty smoothly, with Jacob in seemingly very little pain through the whole thing.  We were working on potty training, which wasn't going particularly well.  I was also pondering moving him up to a big boy bed.  He was four months younger than Carter is now, but we're in a very similar spot today.  I guess I'm in less of a hurry now!  Potty training is going better than it was then, but we're still dealing with some accidents.  I'm pondering changing Carter's crib over to a toddler bed soon, but I'm still pretty torn on that, too.  I'll be writing a post on that soon, I think.

2012 - We were in the midst of figuring out my fertility issues, but taking a break on trying to avoid our Florida trip that fall that never actually happened.  That was a tough period because it felt like baby #2 might never happen.  Jacob was getting increasingly challenging, with a lot of the constant noise we still with, and a lot of resistance.  He'd begun his phase of sleeping on the floor, which lasted quite a while and nearly ruined his carpet!  He was also having some potty issues again, this time with a sore butt that may have been caused by poop sneaking out and irritating the skin.  I look back and wonder if any of that was already related to his Celiac disease, even though he was more than a year away from diagnosis. 

2013 - I was dealing with the worst part of my pregnancy, where my mucus plug was thinning (and scaring the crap out of me).  I was always exhausted and uncomfortable, and nervous that at any moment my water might break.  It was such an overwhelming time, not knowing when this baby might arrive and knowing I had so much to do to prepare.  Little did I know I really only had a couple weeks left!  I did manage to get the room painted during the first week of February, and I was spending a lot of time soaking stained baby clothes and getting them organized and put away.  I had forgotten that I went to my doctor in a panic because I really thought the mucus plug might be a fluid leak!  Oh, and I wanted to reshare my belly photo from that time, because the definition in my belly still fascinates me to this day!


2014 - We were starting to dig into the psychological/behavioral evaluations for Jacob, in the wake of some of the worst of his behavior.  That was when the possibility for Aspergers was first brought up, which definitely had us nervous.  Those evaluations continued into the spring, and while it was disappointing to not end up with clear direction, in the end it was a relief that we weren't facing a specific diagnosis that he would carry with him forever.  Carter went through a difficult run with a double ear infection, but other than that we were having a good time playing with him.  He was in such a cute, silly phase.  He was just starting to stand, too.  Oh, my sweet baby!  Oh, and I was also moving my desk at work after 8-1/2 years in the same spot.  Who knew I'd have less than a year in that new space?

2015 - Most of what was happening a year ago had to do with me being off work.  I was discovering how pleasant stay-at-home mom life could be, and settling into my new, temporary normal.  I discovered that I don't mind housework when my time isn't so limited.  I took the time to go see the Dale Chihuly piece here in Rochester that I'd never seen in person (and now I fundraise for the school of music it resides in!).  I enjoyed my bonus time with Carter.  Of course, I also had to deal with Jacob getting suspended from the afterschool program.  But overall it was a pretty decent time considering I didn't have a job!  Being home for part of a morning this week with Jacob before his doctor appointment reminded me yet again of how much I miss my time at home. 

It's so funny to do one of these posts and see how our lives have evolved over the last eight years.  There are certainly themes, like sickness and behavior issues, that pop up from year to year, but I'm always fascinated by reading about when I was pregnant or recalling unique experiences like kid firsts or being off work.  Life is always evolving, and it's such a reminder of what a journey we're on...

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Cast

Before I get to the latest Jacob update, please allow me to share this picture of Carter with a fresh haircut!  We'd let his hair get a little out of control.  I mean, he looked completely acceptable, but it was shaggy!  I meant to get it done last weekend, but my cold got in the way of that so we finally got it done early this week.  He sat all by himself in the chair and was such a good listener!  He looks so handsome...and so grown up!

Now...as for Jacob...Yesterday was his follow-up appointment with the surgeon.  It was in the nick of time, as his post-surgery splint was starting to fall apart.  It was still intact, but the ace bandage was coming undone so it was definitely time for something a little more secure.

The first order of business was to get the splint off.  The nurse cut off the ace bandage and then slowly picked her way through the cotton wrapping.  Jacob seemed okay during that process, but then it came time to pull the rest of the splint apart and lift his foot off of the remaining material.  That was when the trouble started.  Jacob screamed in pain.  Even after the initial lift, he continued to yell and whine in pain.  It was hard to tell why it was hurting.  Maybe the motion hurt, but it could also be that it felt funny after a couple weeks of immobility, he didn't have any other way to describe the odd feeling other than pain.  I think he was also a little nervous about seeing the scar, too.  I'll admit, the scar was pretty impressive.  It's probably about three inches long.  It's healing up pretty well, but it's going to be a doozy for a while. 

In any event, he carried on for the entire time we waited to see the surgeon, and then again before we went into the casting room.  He also had to pee at the time, which I'm sure didn't help his state of mind.  He attempted to stop in the bathroom on the way to the casting room, but that was a no-go, probably because his leg was just sort of hanging there without support. 

He was still freaking out by the time he got into the casting room.  The guy doing the cast tried to talk to him, but it wasn't really helping.  He did the base layer of the cast with some cotton, then covered it with a sock.  At that point, with Jacob still pretty upset, the cast maker suggested they take a break.  He tried talking to Jacob again, this time asking about his Blue Jays hat.  Like magic, Jacob started to calm down.  Slowly but surely he wrapped the cotton around, and eventually started in on the fiberglass part.  Jacob chose red as his color, and the finished product looked great!

He went back to school for the rest of the day, but opted to not get it signed by his friends that day.  He actually told me that he didn't want anyone to sign it because he didn't want them to make it messy.  However, today he came home with signatures, so apparently he decided messy was more fun!

Here are some pictures, pre-signing:
He can still play on the Wii!

Side view

Front view

For perspective...
He seems to be doing pretty well with it, but he's insisting it is loose.  The casting guy warned us that when there's swelling (he still had a little), the cast can loosen up a bit.  If that happens we have to go back and get a new one.  I doubt it loosened up that quickly, but maybe the guy didn't do it as tight as usual because Jacob was so upset?  Or maybe Jacob is just adjusting to how it should feel?  We'll see.  But at least it's good to have some extra protection for his renegade style on the crutches!

He'll be in the cast for a month, and then hopefully after that he can get back to regular, low-impact activities.  I think it'll still be a couple weeks after that before he can start running on it.  He's out of gym class for eight weeks, so it works out to a couple extra weeks after the cast before he can be back to normal.  And every day is one day closer to that!  We've heard his lacrosse team is getting better, which is promising, and I know he will be much happier when he can participate in gym and the afterschool activities again.  In the meantime, I know it's tough on him.  Spending his entire winter break at the afterschool program's full-day program might be very challenging for him, but hopefully the longer he's like this, the sooner he'll accept it and figure out a way to make this more tolerable for himself.  He's been pretty good so far, but he does have a few party pooper moments where he makes things harder for himself than he has to.  But I give him credit...I never thought he'd survive having to be this sedentary!

Three weeks and six days to go!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

News and Notes, Not Snowed In Edition

So while the rest of the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic region is completely snowed in with 2-3 feet of snow, we're luxuriating here in Rochester with about six inches on the ground, our first snow that actually stuck around for more than a couple days.  We got it last Monday into Tuesday, luckily finishing off when I was home with Jacob, which made shoveling a little easier.  I think we had about four inches then and a couple more over the next few days.  I don't mind snow like this.  And today we even got into the 30-degree range, which happened so rarely last winter once there was snow on the ground.  It was nice to see a little thawing!

So...let's see...Jacob.  He went back to school on Thursday and in his words, he was "more popular than a rock star!"  Or something like that.  He's been using the school's wheelchair for now.  I think it was good that the packet of get well cards from his friends came just in time to remind him of all the kids there waiting for him, and he seemed excited to go back.  And everyone was very happy to see him, so he's been enjoying the attention.  I think it'll be even more fun when he gets his real cast and they can sign it!  But so far so good on the school front.

At home...well...it's a bit more of a mixed bag.  As much as he's gotten more self-sufficient with his crutches, he's also still having a lot of ugly spills.  Now that he's getting more comfortable with them, I think he's losing his focus again and getting complacent.  He trips over nothing.  It's painful to watch, and we're not quite sure how to stop it.  He really just needs to buckle down and focus, or he's going to hurt himself.  Again, it's not always practical to be right next to him when he's getting around, and even if we are, he can get a step ahead and you can't catch him anyway.  It's hard.  We're definitely looking forward to Thursday's appointment to get on to another "next step", the permanent cast and hopefully more insight into the next couple months.  At least he doesn't have any pain, and the itches have been minimal.  He even got a bath with it last night!

In other news, I've been battling something this weekend.  On Friday I had a busy day at work, as we had an event on our music school's campus most of the day, and by that night I had a bit of a scratchy throat and I was really tired early.  I went to bed a little early and still woke up feeling equally awful.  I was tired, my throat was still really sore, and I was pretty much useless the whole day.  I never changed out of my pajamas or put on makeup.  I was stuck in a weird spot between nausea and hunger.  I felt nauseous a lot of the time and didn't really crave any food, but I kept getting hungry.  I ate a couple cups of dry cereal and not much else.  It was a total waste of a day.  Luckily Craig was here all weekend so that made it much easier to lay around all day.  We watched a lot of TV and Craig did his best to keep the kids entertained.  By my (early) bedtime I was convinced I was going to wake up in the middle of the night with stomach issues, as my evening "snack" made my stomach gurgle.  I just didn't feel right.  Luckily, nothing ever happened and I woke up this morning feeling better.  Not perfect, but better.  I showered, got dressed, put on makeup, and even had a very unproductive Kohl's shopping trip.  I got to play some Rollercoaster Tycoon with Jacob, made a crockpot dinner, and did a couple things around the house.  I salvaged the weekend, at least.  I'm still battling a bit of a tickly, hoarse throat from time to time, but I'm thrilled it didn't get worse. 

Carter has been a major challenge for the last few weeks.  He's been talking back a lot more, throwing toys, hitting when he's angry, and reveling in being a general pain in the butt.  It's hard to tell if he's just picking up on a lot of Jacob's naughtiness, or is finally hitting the terrible twos just in time for three.  It started a little before Jacob's surgery, so I don't think it's directly tied into that, but I wouldn't doubt that with all of the attention Jacob has gotten lately, he's trying to exert himself.  He's been brutal at bedtime, from fighting to get in his jammies to staying up an hour after bedtime nearly every night.  He seems like such a party pooper lately, too.  He's not excited about his birthday, and told me today when we read an Easter book that he doesn't want any Easter eggs.  He was like that about Christmas, too.  He doesn't want to do anything fun like that.  I don't know what that's all about, but it's a bummer given how deliriously happy he was for the first two years of his life.  Finally, he's been so-so on the potty training.  He did better in the last week or so, but had an epic accident during nap on Thursday and a minor one tonight.  I can't complain, though.  He's doing pretty well overall.  But he's definitely challenging us right now, and it stinks.  I want my happy, easy-going boy back. 

I found out this week that he'll be moving up to the three-year-old room at daycare on February 1.  I was told that he's been a bit aggressive in his room, and they think it's because he's bored.  I worry a little bit about him with the big kids since he's so small, but hopefully he will thrive in there with more to learn and more toys that are right up his alley.  I once had visions of changing daycares when he hit this room, but now with his behavior issues and the quick switch I'm just not sure what to do.  I still don't like putting money in that owner's pocket.  I don't mind the new director and of all the new teachers I think the two in that room are the ones I get the best vibe from.  But I may still have issues come summer when Jacob needs a place to go.  Other places only charge for days they're there, which works well for him going to lacrosse camps, but our place doesn't have that.  So we may have to switch no matter what...but it's a tough call right now because nowhere seems like a perfect fit for both kids, our budget, and our comfort level.

The kids have been back to bugging one another whenever possible, which is a bummer since we had some peace for a week or so.  We were supposed to have a new sticker chart for Jacob in place by our counseling meeting tomorrow, but with the surgery and being out of our usual rhythms, we didn't quite figure out how we should structure it or what we needed to focus on.  And now with how Carter has been, I'm thinking both kids need one.  So we failed on our homework there.  But I as much as sticker charts can work in the short term, I hate them in the long run because they lose their effectiveness and make the kids expect a reward for doing what they're supposed to do anyway.  It's one thing for potty training where you're aiming to make it a habit sooner than it would have been otherwise, but behavior is such a long term challenge that it's inevitable that it won't be enough.  Not that we won't do it, but I want to be thoughtful about it, and this surgery thing has put everything into limbo for a bit. 

So, in general things are fine, but we definitely have enough to keep us occupied!  At least we can be thankful that we didn't get the crazy snow or a worse illness!  See, things aren't that bad :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Getting There...

We've gotten into some form of a new normal over the course of this week, though that will be changed up a bit tomorrow when Jacob goes back to school.  He's getting around a bit better, we've been able to spend some time with him and keep him going on his school work, and his pain is minimal.  But school could be a whole other ballgame tomorrow.

Jacob's stomach issues hung around right through Monday, and finally yesterday he seemed to be back to normal.  We didn't have any other puking episodes after the one before dawn on Sunday morning, but he still wasn't feeling well and his issues moved south by Monday, which was a bit challenging considering he can't really run to the bathroom right now when nature calls urgently.  But yesterday he woke up doing better, and ate relatively normally for the rest of the day.  He slept in the bathroom again last night, so his stomach must have been bugging him a bit at bedtime, but he woke up and asked for cereal instead of toast for breakfast for the first time since he's been home, so I'll take that as a good sign.  He felt a little iffy again tonight, so I can't help but wonder if he's psyching himself out.

His leg doesn't really seem to be causing him much pain, and we've been off the hardcore meds since Saturday night.  I usually give him a dose or two of ibuprofen over the course of the day, however, as he has mentioned discomfort around his ankle.  I have no idea why that's happening, but given the trauma he's been through, and how wrapped up he is, it could be almost anything.  Maybe it's the immobilization, maybe it's how something is wrapped, maybe he's just having a hard time pinpointing what is actually bothering him.  He insists there's metal in there, which could be the case since there is a splint, but I have no idea.  Maybe his knowledge of the plate is just playing tricks on him.  His followup is in about a week, so hopefully at that point we'll get a little peek at what's going on in there.  And then it will be promptly hidden away for another few weeks under his permanent cast.

He's getting around better, but it's still a pretty unstable situation.  He's just not as coordinated or balanced as I'd like to see him at this point.  He's getting better with straightaways, but once in a while if he gets distracted he has an utter fail where the crutches go flying and he's on the floor.  Nothing has ended seriously, but aside from us shadowing him everywhere, it's really just dependent on him focusing.  The second he loses focus, his rhythm is gone and he can stumble.  That is why he will have a wheelchair at school.  There's no sense risking things on slippery tile floors.  I truly have no idea how that will go, but the nurse and his teacher seemed unphased, so I guess it will be fine.

Craig stayed with Jacob on Monday, I stayed with him yesterday, and my parents came in today.  The highlight of yesterday for me was firing up my old desktop and playing Rollercoaster Tycoon with Jacob.  We'd talked about it when he started playing Minecraft, and I wanted to show him the real game, which is a far cry from the free app on my iPod.  We had fun poking around some of my old parks and building a new one together.  He asked to play it again tonight, but that will probably have to wait for the weekend.  My parents opted to keep Carter home today, too, which was pretty daring on their part.  Carter had some moments--I have no idea what has gotten into him, but man, he has gotten to be a major button pusher--but he shaped up as the day went on. 

Tonight when I brought in the mail, there was a thick envelope from school.  Inside was a stack of get well cards from his classmates!  He was very excited and entertained reading them!  It was interesting to see their second grade perspective of surgery and of their relationships with him.  The drawings of a sick person getting surgery were cute, and it's clear they think he's a great Lego builder!  They all seem to miss him, though!  In addition to the gift bag from my co-workers (who gushed over the cuteness of his brief thank you note), he got some books from my aunt and some coloring books from my cousin's daughter.  My mom printed up a full binder of coloring pages for him.  It's so sweet of everyone to think of him. 

Slowly but surely he's getting better at getting around the house, and I think getting back to school will be good for him.  It will be a challenge after a week of laying around and looking at various screens, but I think it will be nice to get back to normal.  He may not want to admit it, but I think he's looking forward to it.  And next week when he gets a signable cast, he will like that even more!  We still have a long process ahead, but every bit of normalcy we get back is a small victory.  Soon all those small ones will have a big payoff, and we're definitely looking forward to that.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

One Day at a Time...

So, yesterday started relatively well.  Lazy morning, Craig left for work, uneventful lunch, Carter went down for nap easily, and I even got Jacob to do some homework without major complaints.  We watched movies and listened to the Knighthawks game, and all was well.  Well, aside from me feeling like I spent the whole day escorting people to the bathroom.  Carter has regressed in the potty training department (he did it before the surgery, so I can't blame it on that change in routine), but I still had to walk him to the bathroom a few times during the day.  Getting Jacob to the bathroom is a debacle since we don't have one on our main floor.  The good news is that he's getting some valuable practice on getting around and using the steps, but the bad news is that his balance is terrible and he nearly wiped out half a dozen times.  I don't know what happens, but suddenly he just stops and loses his crutches.  He's doing a heck of a job keeping his foot off the ground, thankfully, but I'm worried we're going to end up with a broken wrist before all of this is over.  But it's such a process getting him there and having him figure out how to pee while standing on one leg, then wash his hands and get back downstairs.  We may need to get him set up in the basement more often, as there is everything he needs down there, but he would prefer to be part of the action upstairs.  We'll get there.

I made dinner, something both kids usually like, and Jacob refused to eat.  He said his stomach hurt.  He went back to the couch with the puke bucket, and a little while later he said he wanted his food.  He ate about half of it and decided he was done.  At bedtime he complained about his stomach again, and we sat in the bathroom for about 45 minutes before he said he was OK to go back to bed.  I offered to do the stomach bug setup in his room--comforter on the floor--but he said he'd be fine. 

Craig got home late from the Knighthawks game, and I'm not sure I even heard him.  But at 3am Jacob called me down to his room.  He had thrown up on the edge of his sheet and in a line on the carpet along the side of his bed.  UGH.  Luckily it was pretty minimal compared to what it could have been--small amount, no stuffed animals, nothing on him--so I sent him down to the bathroom (on crutches, of course) and let him sit by the toilet for a bit.  Eventually I woke Craig up so he could get Jacob set up for a night in the bathroom, and I cleaned up the mess.  That meant cleaning up the mess on the floor, pulling a hundred animals off his bed, changing the sheets, throwing the animals back on the bed, and then hauling my carpet cleaner up from the basement to do a few passes over the affected area.  It wasn't bad, but I didn't want it to dry with a stain or to smell.  So I cleaned the carpet at about 3:30am, started a load of laundry, and finished it off with some Febreze.  Oh, and had a minor heart attack when I saw in a car in our driveway when bringing the cleaner back downstairs.  Turns out it was our newspaper arriving at 3:45am!

He had one more incident around 5am, all in the toilet, thank goodness.  He woke up a little iffy, but has slowly improved during the day.  He had a piece of toast and just finished some dry cereal, along with sips of water throughout.  I called the on-call doctor at the hospital to get their take on it.  He gave me the green light to stop giving him the hardcore pain meds and just switch to ibuprofen.  He hasn't been complaining about pain at all, so I really don't think it's necessary.  We've had plenty of times where I wasn't on him immediately after four hours, so I'll take that as a good sign.  So if he starts complaining again, we're going to go that route.

I started thinking about the medication after the fact, and I realized that he started it Thursday night with a new anti-nausea medication.  He woke up hungry on Friday and had a good breakfast of toast, eggs, and fruit early on.  He did well with lunch, too, and had a reasonable dinner.  But yesterday he had a very small breakfast before his first dose, and he said the nausea started before lunch.  His lunch was decent, but he got another dose of medicine right around dinner because I couldn't wait any longer if I wanted to be able to give him one more before bed.  My guess is that that pre-dinner dose was on a too-empty stomach and it started to irritate it, and the delayed small dinner and additional dose at bedtime put him over the edge. 

He actually just complained to me that his foot is hurting.  It's hard to know where the incision is or why that particular area might be bothering him, but since he just had a snack I gave him some ibuprofen and we'll see how it goes.  The good news is that if we can keep him off the harder meds, he could possibly go back to school earlier than anticipated, assuming we can work out his mobility issues.  Getting off those meds could help his balance, but we'll probably still rent a wheelchair because there are inevitably going to be places we need to go where crutches will be hard, and getting around school may be much easier with one.  We need to do some calling on that tomorrow, but the prescription is waiting to be used so we might as well.  It's going to snow tomorrow, so getting around with that might be impossible without a chair.

So...at least for the moment he's feeling better.  This really is just about taking it one day at a time, and hopefully we'll hit the two week follow-up and four-week end of the cast (we hope) before we know it.  I think it will all get easier, and I can already see him getting stronger and more comfortable, little by little.  He's been a trooper (a cranky one at times, but still...), and I think if we can get him into the mindset of a rehabilitating pro athlete, that might make things easier.  But day by day, it should get better.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Scenes from a Hospital

We're home from the hospital.  It's been a bit of a bumpy re-entry.  More on that soon.  But in the meantime, here are the photos from our hospital stay. 

Jacob kept himself occupied in the pre-surgery area with Minecraft on his iPad...

Right before he went in, we got a good laugh watching Craig try to get into his sterile uniform to accompany Jacob back to anesthesia...

He wasn't just laughing because Craig looked funny, but because he had a heck of a time figuring out the outfit--how to put on the booties, which side was the front of the jumpsuit...it was quite entertaining.

When we got up to our room, I was pleasantly surprised to get a corner room.  This was the view to the south...

...and to the west.  The airport is in the distance, and the foreground is the School of Nursing and a research building on the left, and various other parts of the medical center on the right.

After Jacob went to sleep last night, I spent a little time looking out the window again.  It was snowing a bit, which made it a bit ethereal out there. 


The overnight was...well...like having a newborn.  It wasn't awful, but it was tiring.  I went to bed a little after 10.  Between nurses stopping in and Jacob having to pee, I think I was up every hour early on.  Then I think I finally got a few hours in a row before Craig came in at 3am after coming back from Toronto.  We had another pee break then, and I know a doctor came in sometime before 6am.  I think I maybe got a little more sleep before snoozing on and off for a couple hours before getting up for good somewhere around 8am.  Some of the sleep was decent, as the bed was comfy enough, but the sleep was so interrupted that it didn't do a lot of good.  It's not easy managing a cranky kid on not much sleep.  The anti-nausea medication that put Jacob to sleep seemed to do the trick, and he switched to a more tolerable pain med at that point, so his belly was fine today.  But he was still having leg pain when we had to move it.  And since he refused to use the walker, we had to use a plastic urinal bottle whenever he had to pee.  Getting him in a position to get the right angle was a challenge.  Either we risked him spraying, or I'd accidentally dig the rim into the wrong spot.  It was pretty frustrating, and we had to do this at least three times overnight.  And it was no better during the day.  Ugh. 

As I was getting up, I noticed a pink glow through the shades.  I snapped this picture as the sun rose...

Here is my bed in sleep mode...

...and in day mode.  The table lowers and a button pops the back cushion up so it can be flipped over the table and chair cushions.  The arm rests make for good spots for phone storage overnight!
 

And here is Craig's bed.  The back cushion detached with Velcro. 

Here is the current state of Jacob's leg.  It's wrapped up from just below the knee down to his toes.  There is a half cast/splint that will be replaced with a real cast in a couple weeks.  He's a little thrown off by his orange, Oompa Loompa toes and knee from the antiseptic. 

And here he is.  You have no idea how challenging it was to get this picture.  He said the bed was really comfortable--mostly because he liked adjusting it--and he loved having free reign over the TV, which was well-stocked with movies. 

The whole hospital is filled with little details.  The floor he was on has a city theme.  Notice the stoplight motif on the door...

Here's a close-up of the other door.  The bridge is reminiscent of a bridge downtown, complete with a river beneath.

And here is the bathroom.  Fancy, huh?

He had a hard time with his physical therapy session.  He's very hesitant to move himself around.  Learning to go upstairs on his butt and use his crutches was quite challenging.  However, Jacob enjoyed his lunch--he got a kick out of ordering that himself--and we finally got to head out. 

My parents left, Jacob took up his spot on the couch, and Carter said, "Mommy, you're back!" about half a dozen times in the 15 minutes after he woke up from his nap.  Jacob put together some Legos he got as a post-surgery gift while Craig stopped into work.  We watched some movies, had some dinner, and continued to get frustrated by getting him around the house.  He actually said he wanted to use the urinal again, rather than go upstairs (six steps) to use the bathroom.  While it is more awkward with crutches than you'd think, I informed him that I was not interested in holding up a bottle to his penis for the next month. Yay, motherhood.  So...we have a long way to go toward getting him more mobile and more confident on his crutches.  We'll hopefully find out Monday whether we need to rent a wheelchair for school, but even that is a pain in the neck with the leg flaps and all that.  It's definitely going to be a long month.

As a whole our hospital experience was as good as it could have been.  Between the beautiful room and the wonderful nurses and staff, we couldn't have asked for much more.  Jacob has been a trooper through the nausea and pain, but we really need him to get with the program on getting around, because his complacency could get him more hurt.  He gets off-balance and lets the crutches slip out from his armpits.  Part of that could be the painkillers, but he needs to be more careful and more willing to commit to getting better, or he risks making it worse. 

But we're relieved the surgery is over and we can try to get back in our normal groove.  Hopefully we can use the next week to adjust, and then we'll take another step with school the following week.  Then we'll get to the follow-up appointment and we'll be halfway through this very hard phase.  Baby steps....literally and figuratively.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Surgery Day

I'm sitting in a room that's part well-designed hotel and part hospital room.  The usual equipment is there, but it comes served with a side of pretty textiles, warm paint, and innovative furniture.  The TV is stocked with movies and the bathroom has modern colored subway tile.  We have a corner room on the 8th floor, overlooking house rooftops to the south and the airport and part of the university campus to the west.  I'm settled in on a mattress that was previously the back cushion to a double seat and table earlier today.  Along the other window is another window seat that's ready in case Craig comes in on his way back from Toronto overnight.  And in the center of it all is my little boy, my little trooper, finally sleeping after one of the longest days of his life.

It has been a long day for all of us.  I was up at 5am, and Craig and Jacob eventually followed suit.  My parents came into town last night and slept over to be with Carter all day.  We were supposed to be here by 6:30.  Strangely, everything was up in the air the day before when I called for our surgery time, and they originally told me he didn't have a set time and to call back this morning at 8:30.  But when I called the doctor's secretary (a last-ditch suggestion from the surgery department), she texted the doctor and called me with the 6:30 time.  Not sure what happened there, but we got here just a few minutes late.  We checked in and shortly after were called back to the pre-surgery area.  Everyone was in pretty good spirits, joking and laughing.  We sat there for quite a while with various preparations from time to time.  Eventually it was time to go back, and Craig got to don a pretty funny suit and go back with Jacob for the anesthesia.  We went for a second breakfast in the cafeteria, since the surgery was expected to be an hour and a half, and hung out there for a bit.

We headed back to the waiting room, and we had barely gotten settled in when the surgeon came out and told us that he was done.  Everything had gone fine, but when they got in there they could see that the tumor had busted out the back of the bone a bit (from what we could understand), which necessitated a metal plate to stabilize it all.  It looks like he won't be able to put weight on it for a month, and then he'll have another month to recover before we can get back to normal.  On the bright side, that will carry us almost to spring, so at least we have something to keep us distracted, right?  Ha.

After a while we headed back to the recovery room, where he was just starting to wake up.  He was very tired but was talking pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, he also got nauseous pretty quickly.  The nurse gave him some medicine, but a couple minutes later he threw up (thankfully all clear water, but it was pretty awful for him nonetheless).  Eventually the anti-nausea medicine and the pain medicine found a balance, and while he wasn't perfect, he was stable.  It was right around that time that Craig had to cut out and head up to Toronto for tonight's Knighthawks game, and shortly thereafter we got our room upstairs.  Lori came to hang out in the early afternoon, at which point I headed down to grab a late lunch.  Jacob watched a couple movies (including one of his favorite Scooby Doo ones), and my parents arrived with Carter later in the afternoon.  We had a nice visit, and Carter was loving the view from the top.  My co-worker met me downstairs with a present for him, a few more drawing supplies and a few Star Wars-themed items.  I picked up dinner from the cafeteria on my way back up and ate it in the room.

As the night went on, Jacob got nauseous again.  They tried the same drug they gave him earlier, to no avail.  Lori left before 8pm, he threw up a little again, and then he got another anti-nausea medicine that put him to sleep as we listened to Craig's broadcast.  I've been hanging out ever since, catching up online and typing this.  I'm hoping for a good, restful night, but I know this is a hospital so that is doubtful.  The room is rather quiet, however, aside from a periodic random bang from the bathroom (the next room's door?) and some outside city noise.  We get periodic visits from the nurse and the tech, though, and I know better than to assume Jacob will sleep all night.  Between the setting, the pain, the nausea, and whatever else, I'm sure he will wake up at some point.  Which means I will wake up at some point.  But he just looked so tired all day, red circles around his eyes and very little movement, so I know he needs the rest.  He barely ate or drank, so despite the IV I'm sure that's not helping.  Moving his leg hurts, and peeing is still a major challenge.  He refuses to attempt the walker.  So, we still have a ways to go to feel like we can go home with confidence, but hopefully the morning will bring a renewed energy to all of us. 

Mostly I'm just sad that Jacob has to go through this.  Despite our challenges, he was a trooper.  He wasn't combative and was minimally cranky.  He even scooted himself from his gurney to his bed, and was just content hanging out.  He had periods of chatting incessantly about Minecraft as he built, and he stayed pretty calm despite the puking episodes.  He really did pretty well.  Of course, he did hit the nurse call button when I told him not to because the medicine wasn't working fast enough, and I think he needs to gain confidence in learning to use his arm and good leg to move around, but all things considered, he did well.  I'm proud of him.

I will have more stories to tell and some pictures soon, but I think for now I'm going to get some sleep while I can. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Big Week...HUGE...

So...the week of surgery is upon us.  I'll admit this week has me a little off-kilter.  Between work, surgery, and a couple other things bouncing around in my brain, there is a lot happening.  So much, in fact, that as I was putting away the last of the bins after taking down all of the Christmas stuff yesterday, I literally thought, "Oh, crap.  Tomorrow's Monday.  I have to go to work!"  I knew all day that it was Sunday, so you'd think I'd know what comes next.  But I guess all of the distractions of the week already have me a little out of the groove!

We're in a bit of a transitional phase at work, waiting for books to close on the calendar year.  Half the time I have nothing to do and half the time I'm crazy busy.  It's just the nature of this time of year, I think.  But sitting there with nothing to do and knowing that it is definitely going to get busy at some point can be tough.  I'd rather just get on it and spread it out a bit, but sometimes that's just not possible.  So I wait and hope that my schedule over the next week and a half works out OK between Jacob's needs and work's needs.

Jacob has been counting down the days (literally) until surgery.  I think he's just ready to move on from the boot and get himself on the road to recovery.  His lacrosse team was the pregame tunnel team and the halftime team at the Knighthawks' opener on Saturday, and I think it bummed him out having to watch them from the stands.  Well, he probably could have done tunnel team, but they do have to run a bit from the entrance to the field down to where they welcome the team, and I think that worried him.  We've come to a point where we offer up the chance to participate and support his team, but if he doesn't want to, we don't push.  We know this is tough for him.  We ran into his coach at the game and he seemed a bit disappointed to hear the 4-6 week recovery time, but it really is best case scenario, I'd say, given how bad the leg could have been.  Knowing how much pounding it has taken over the years, I'm pretty shocked it didn't break.  Well, it possibly did based on what the doctor is seeing, but the fact that Jacob never felt it is pretty crazy.  So, the countdown is on and so far Jacob is in good spirits.  I don't think he really understands what's ahead, but with him it's a delicate balance between preparing him and totally freaking him out (hence why we had a massive fail when it came to preparing him for Carter's arrival, something we're still feeling the effects of three years later).  If we give him too much information he will obsess and panic.  If we don't give him enough, he will be caught unaware and be upset anyway.  But finding that tipping point is very, very hard.  To be honest, even we don't know a whole lot right now since we can't even find out the time of the surgery until Wednesday afternoon.  I don't know where we have to go or what we have to bring or anything like that, either.  I have a couple mental notes about little things I want to give him (a new drawing pad and possibly some colored pencils or other drawing instruments that are better than crayons but not as messy as markers), and a couple of potential activities for us while we're hanging out at home next week, but that's about as far as we've gotten.

I don't think I've mentioned that Jacob has started to play Minecraft.  He got an iTunes gift card for Christmas that he was initially annoyed about, because his iPad is old and most apps don't support iOS 5.1 at this point.  But then I reminded him how badly he wanted to download Minecraft.  He'd been asking about it for a while a few months ago, then stopped, and then really got on me about it after he realized the gift card could buy it.  I did some research on the safety and age-appropriateness, then consented to downloading it for him.  However, he needed to be reasonable with the time he spent on it and if it started interfering in things it would be deleted.  A week or so in, he's pretty addicted, not surprisingly, but we're monitoring it.  He's only allowed to play in creative mode at the moment, so he's building himself a crazy city with sports facilities and a city hall and a million other things.  It's pretty nuts, actually.  I mean, on one hand I'm impressed with all he's done, and with his imagination in doing it.  But I don't like all the screen time and I'm getting annoyed that he talks about it all the time.  I've been there, though.  When I was a kid, we borrowed a family member's Nintendo (while my cousins were being punished), I get quite sucked into Super Mario, to the point that my thumb hurt!  And about 14 years ago I became pretty addicted to Rollercoaster Tycoon 2.  Hours, I tell you.  It's still on my desktop, but I haven't touched it in years, mostly because I know it's a terrible time suck.  In the spirit of Jacob's blossoming obsession, I did download the free RCT app for myself!  It's very different than the computer version, but it's been entertaining.  Hearing that music again transported me right back to those days, though!  I may offer to play the computer version with Jacob next week, since he seemed interested in it and it will give us something to do while he's laid up.  In regards to Minecraft, though, I want to lay down a few very strong rules, but I feel like right now is not the time for anything new.  He's going to need things to do over the next couple weeks, so I think it's pointless to be laying down the law right now.  Once he's mobile again and has a few more options, we'll work on it.  I do think we'll have to try to be creative and find other non-electronic things to keep him busy, but now is not the time to enforce new rules.

Speaking of which, yesterday I started reading "1-2-3 Magic", a book loaned to us by our family counselors that lays out a different discipline technique.  I can't say I'm convinced it will work with Jacob, but I think Carter may benefit from it at this point.  Still, I will finish reading it and hopefully once we're past the initial recovery we can consider implementing it.  Keeping quiet and calm and not allowing the child to argue and debate are key components of it, and I know that will be hard for me since it's hard not to respond to some of the things the kids say.  Jacob, in particular, has gotten very mouthy lately.  He's developed this tween attitude thing, complete with the obnoxious inflection (you know, that way of speaking that combines total annoyance, disgust, entitlement, and a silent eye roll).  We will be looking to nip that in the bud ASAP, but again, now seems like a bit of a tough time to start this program.  In fact, the book cautions against starting it when kids aren't at peak health.  We'll still have to be firm in the meantime, but we'll save the program for when we're prepared to stick with it.  Regardless, I think a guideline for consistent discipline is a good thing.  With this one, when we start counting, they will know exactly how long they have to shape up, and what's coming if they don't.  We'll see.

On top of everything else, I'm facing down the one year anniversary later this week of the day I lost my job.  That's been weighing on my mind a lot, for some reason, even though I'm in a better place than I was.  At the Knighthawks game on Saturday, I visited with my former co-worker who got let go the same day, and she loves her new job, too.  She's so much happier.  Yet, we still said how awful the whole thing was to go through.  I doubt I will ever forget the surreal, sinking feeling as it all went down, and I still think they made a horrible mistake.  Regardless of where they stand now, I know for a fact there were a lot of people whose lives were made much harder, and others who could not get the things they needed and were promised.  And now that the other analyst has moved on to greener pastures, I feel awful for my amazing former boss.  She didn't deserve this at all.  It was a short-sighted decision, and for that it makes me very mad.  Even though I benefited in the long run from the interview training, resume re-write, and simply being able to focus on my strengths and how to sell myself, the path to get there was very uncomfortable.  Had I not found my job like I did, I'm not sure where I would have ended up.  Those "what-ifs" are scary, and for that this anniversary is still a little bittersweet.  Perhaps it's also that it coincides with Jacob's surgery and it's a reminder of how quickly things can change.  Sigh.

As I mentioned, the Knighthawks season started on Saturday, so we're officially in the thick of Craig's busy season now.  His second game is Thursday in Toronto (yes, surgery day) so we're starting it off with a bang.  I just wish they could have started it with a win. :-/

Carter made it through a week of underwear with only one minor accident (wet spot on the undies but pants were barely damp), so I think we'll call that a win.  He's been doing great.  I feel hesitant to call him potty trained, but we're pretty darn close during the day!  I'm so proud of him!  He's mostly ahead of Jacob at this point, though looking back it looks like Jacob had a good run after he turned three and then took a turn for the worse for a while.  Carter had a second minor accident tonight, so now it's got me worried we've got another backslider.  Still, I think Jacob was pretty solidly in underwear by 3-1/2, so we could be as much as six months or so ahead of the game right now.  Not counting chickens, but I'm close!

So, yes, a big week.  Lots going on, including some potentially interesting weather and an extended family funeral we can't even make.  Oh, and there's one other (good) thing going on (not with us) that popped up today that's not sharable here, but suffice it to say that my mind is spinning pretty good right now with all that's happening this week.  Stay tuned... 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

News & Notes, Carter Edition

In the midst of all of this Jacob stuff, I figured I should throw in a quick update on Carter!  I can't believe his birthday is just over a month away!  I really need to start party planning, actually.  The cake has been planned--not as fancy as some of them recently, but I think it will be fun!  I'll be winging it a bit, but I think he will like it!  We're pretty limited on birthday party dates because of Craig's schedule and Valentine's Day, so it looks like we'll be celebrating a week early, assuming I can get my stuff together!  I already have most of his gifts, though I'm leaving a little wiggle room for him to settle into his Christmas gifts, to see if there's anything he really gets into.  I'm finding that Christmas overflow and those newly discovered interests are the perks to having a kid with a birthday so soon after Christmas.  He started to get into gift opening and all that right at the end of Christmas, so I'm hoping his birthday will recapture that excitement!

I truly can't believe he's almost three.  Three sounds very big boy-ish, but he's supposed to be my baby!  It probably doesn't help that he's such a peanut.  He's still only about 25 pounds and maybe 36 inches (?), which is so small compared to a few other kids we know.  He blends in OK at daycare, but there's often a range of ages in his room so sometimes it's hard to tell.  He still fits in a lot of 2T clothes, but some of the pants and sleeves are starting to get short now.  I'm panicking a little, actually, since the pants are getting short but the waists on the next size up are still huge on him!  Luckily his jeans are fine and he's still got a closet packed with shirts, so we're fine, but it's always sad packing away the stuff that's too small.

Speaking of which, over the weekend I put away a few toys that are more on the babyish side, or that he just hasn't played with a lot.  We need to make space for the new stuff, so even though he may not have been totally done with some of them, we had to sacrifice the least used.  I'll feel much better about the toy situation once I take our tree down (hopefully this weekend) and can get the rest of our storage back in the living room.  Beyond that I need to start planning for Carter's big boy room, so I can envision toy storage for him there.  We still haven't transitioned over to the toddler bed setup, though I think that will have to come soon.  We don't have to truly switch things around until we move him up to a twin (at which point the bedtime reading chair will probably go, since we can sit in bed), but I'm trying to keep those changes in mind as I try to rearrange the living room toys.  But it was sad putting those toys away, because I know they're not coming back out as toys for *my* kids.  It wasn't bad with Jacob because I figured that someday most of them would be back, especially the gender neutral baby stuff.  But now that it's basically "forever", it's sad.  I know we should start donating, but I am keeping things around in the crawl space for as long as we have room and I am of childbearing age, just in case we change our minds or God specifically thinks we should be a family of five.  I know the second that stuff is out of the house, somehow I will have a birth control malfunction.  My mom says I should just get my tubes tied, but I have to be on birth control for my PCOS anyway, and anything too permanent scares me a bit.  Must be my indecisive side!

Carter has turned into quite the silly little boy, though.  He talks up a storm (still with his little stutter, unfortunately) and takes great pride in making Jacob laugh.  It doesn't take much (and honestly, most of what makes Jacob laugh ends up being nonsensical and generally annoying).  I know I should enjoy them laughing together, but most of the time it seems Jacob is laughing at him, rather than with him, so it's still not ideal.  But Carter can be so funny sometimes.  He can be very perceptive about things, too.  Sometimes he says something that I wouldn't think he'd have made a connection on, and he has!  He's still very loving and full of hugs and kisses.  He has a stubborn side, though!  He can be very hard to convince, so it's lucky for me he's still a lightweight!  He's definitely not a morning person and sometimes he's needlessly grumpy about things, just for the sake of being grumpy, it would appear.  But he's a pretty fun kid overall and I'm worried about how much I will miss him when I'm with Jacob in the hospital.

He still loves his cars and trucks, though pushing around his shopping cart and handing out food is still high on the list, too.  He has some favorite stuffed animals and loves snuggling his blankets in bed.  He always asks to watch Paw Patrol and Team Umizoomi on TV.  My favorite part of most evenings is snuggling next to him on the couch to watch a show.

But the big update is that today marks day #4 in undies!  We tried undies over the weekend and it went perfectly.  I didn't do it on Monday because I knew I needed to grab some extra undies and pants for his bag, but yesterday and today he did great!  It made me smile last night as we got ready for his bath and I looked at him running around in just his undies.  On one hand I'm so proud of him, and on the other I can't believe my baby boy is big enough (especially with that tiny little body) to have on undies!  He loves the Paw Patrol ones he got for Christmas, and I have some hand-me-downs from Jacob (dark colors, thankfully, but all still in really good condition) to get us through the week.  I'll still probably be a little nervous when we go out in public, but so far he's been perfect.  I am down to five more pull-ups and I'm thinking maybe we'll get one more small pack for car trips or other places it might be inconvenient, or where he might be hesitant to tell someone he has to go and an accident would be extra awkward (like Sunday School).  We still have a way to go at night (although over Christmas he did have a couple dry nights!), but given Jacob's struggles with that, I have zero expectations on that front.  We're about six months ahead of Jacob for daytime, so I will take it!

Anyway, I still find that I'm savoring every moment of being with him and that I'm less prone to wishing time away than I was last time around.  It helps that his terrible twos have been manageable, though I'm definitely on guard for the threes, as we all know they're often worse!  But I feel so lucky to have such a sweet, cool little boy to hang out with.  I love his big brother, too, obviously, but it's nice to have one kid who returns affection and listens at least some of the time!  I am one lucky mama to have him. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

And the verdict is...

This morning we had Jacob's appointment with the specialist, and it looks like he will be having surgery later next week to repair the non-ossifying fibroma in his leg bone.  They will scrape it out and do a bone graft procedure to fill it in and stabilize it.  He may or may not end up with a plate, as well, and if he does, he may or may not need to have it removed.  It'll all depend on what they see when they get in there.

The good news is that we have a wonderful, brand-new children's hospital that he'll be at.  He'll have to stay overnight for observation, but each room is a private room and has a spot for a parent to sleep, so that will be nice.  He'll be out of school for about a week, or at least until he can come off his pain medication.  After that he'll have a 4-6 week period of no sports, which means he might be able to sneak into the end of the second half of the indoor lacrosse season.  And he should be ready to go for the spring outdoor season.

All things considered, I think this is a best-case scenario.  It's winter, and he'd be crazier if he was missing out on playtime outside.  It stinks he has to miss part of his season, but we're still very lucky that he did not end up with a broken leg from this.  The x-ray was pretty shocking, to be honest.  The lesion takes up more than half of the width of his bone, which is why he's getting surgery as opposed to any other treatment.  I feel blessed that this is a benign, very fixable problem.  It's not cancer, it didn't impact his growth, and once this recovery is over, he should be back to being a normal kid.  Like I said, we have a great hospital, and while it's always a little scary, we know Jacob has been through anesthesia just fine before, so that helps.

The one downside is that if it ends up getting scheduled when the doctor said it would, Craig is scheduled to be out of town that night.  The Knighthawks have a rare weeknight game in Toronto that day, so as of now the plan is for him to stick around as long as he can, have my parents take Carter for a couple days, and for me to spend the night with Jacob at the hospital.  We still have to think through and coordinate work schedules for when he's off from school.  It's definitely a lot to process and plan with only a week's notice, but we'll get there.

So far Jacob seems to be doing well.  After the doctors talked up the hospital to him, I drove him past there on our way back to school.  I pointed out the floor he'll be on and the cool two-story playdeck where he might be able to go hang out.  I figured that seeing it now might at least get him interested or a little excited about it.  He seemed a little excited after that, so I guess that's good.  I think it'll definitely be a challenge keeping all of our nerves at bay for the next week, even though we know it's routine and fixable.  For me it's just the process of it all...making sure all of our bases are covered, ensuring that Carter is taken care of, that we will always have someone on Jacob duty and still properly manage our work, making sure that he will be able to have a proper gluten-free diet in the hospital, preparing in case we have a very early morning that day, etc.  As a mom I think it's just natural to be all caught up in planning...and if it takes my mind off the reality of the situation (i.e., that my baby is about to be cut open), so be it. I'll have time for worrying about that when we get closer to the actual surgery.

Still, I can't help but sit here and wonder why he's gotten such a raw deal.  Again, it's not cancer, he'll be fine, and this will be yet another blip on the radar, but why has he had to endure so many random medical issues?  A week in the hospital at birth, bronchiolitis when he was a baby that led to a nine-month cough, reflux (and its assorted medicines), a mole removal, behavior issues, Celiac disease, and now this.  It just seems like a lot for a little kid.  I can't help but wonder if it was the Clomid that I took right around when I got pregnant.  The test was negative when they gave it to me, but I'm pretty sure I was either just pregnant or it happened immediately after I started taking it.  It can cause miscarriage, so it makes me wonder.  Then we sometimes talk about Craig's dad's exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, and whether or not something might have been passed down, as apparently that's possible.  Or maybe it's just plain bad luck.  You never know how genes are going to arrange themselves, I suppose.  And they could have certainly done worse.  But it's hard to see your kid constantly have something to battle.

Am I scared?  A little.  As much as everything is routine, there's always that risk that something could go wrong.  From an infection to the possibility that they could find something they're not expecting, there is always a concern.  But for now I'm comfortable that everything will be fine.  He's a tough kid and he's eager to get things fixed up.  We're eager too.  Keep us in your prayers...

Monday, January 4, 2016

Oh, January...

Saturday night I got sucked into reading last year's blog posts from early January.  I had one of those flashback posts pop up in my Facebook feed, and it was from last year.  It indicated that I had been sick.  I honestly couldn't remember what ailment in particular that was, so I dug into my blog to rehash the details.  Reading those posts transported me back to a very challenging time, and looking back on it now I'm surprised I didn't totally lose my mind during the first couple weeks of January.

Mind you, we had been harboring various versions of sickness for over a month.  Colds, random viruses and fevers, my ongoing battle with pinkeye, you name it.  Carter got a stomach bug on New Year's Day night, and I had a short-lived, less violent version shortly after.  Carter spiked another fever after returning to daycare, and the next day while I was home with him, I got a call that Jacob wasn't feeling well, and sure enough, two steps out of school he puked on the sidewalk.  A couple days later, on a Sunday, he woke up with head-to-thighs hives.  Two days after that I lost my job.  Oh, and the morning after my pinkeye tried to make a comeback.  I felt awful just reading all of that again.  Good Lord.  I know it was incredibly hard and felt a little like the biblical story of Job (on a much smaller scale, but still...), but looking back I can't believe all of that happened within the first two weeks of 2015.  It's no wonder I felt extra lost after the job thing, because I never really got my footing after the holidays as it was. 

After reading that, I felt even more grateful we made it through the holidays with no major illnesses.  I had to laugh, though, that all of the "On this day" posts on Facebook either had to do with illness or snow.  Seems those two issues were really common on January 2 over the past seven years.  And, sure enough, we've dealt with some snow over the past few days, too.  First, we woke up to a good six inches of lake effect at Craig's parents' on New Year's Day.  We got stuck in the driveway, and again pulling out of their neighborhood on to the main road.  We drove out of it, as you do with lake effect, and we had green grass at home.  We had a dusting over the weekend that strangely only stuck to the concrete, and then we had an inch or so in time for the commute this morning.  Luckily roads were fine and so far not much more has fallen, but the high temp today is hanging in the teens, so that's been a rude awakening after 60s less than two weeks ago.  I must say, too, that feeling that bitter cold this morning was a major throwback to last year, when it was so freezing during all of February.  I immediately associated it with all of the emotions from that time last year.  The brain is so weird sometimes.

Of course, after spending two out of the last three winters mostly hanging out on my couch, I'll admit that this time of year really makes me want to hibernate a bit.  I find myself craving bad TLC network programming and baby cuddles, dressing in jeans and having a little time to organize and clean.  I know I wasn't super productive during maternity leave, but it's amazing what time you can take advantage of when you're physically home all day, even if you've got a baby in your arms or a toddler hanging on your leg.  As hard as maternity leave and being out of work can be, there is a certain peace with that less rushed lifestyle, no doubt.  Heck, even Carter has asked to stay home almost every morning since I've been back to work.  I don't know if he's just being difficult or if he really remembers his extra time home with me last year.  Maybe he just really loves his weekends.  It's like an unfortunate surprise every morning when he finds out he's going to daycare.  And really, he does like it there.  Apparently he just likes home more.

Please don't get me wrong--I'm so thankful to have my job.  I think I've just been tired lately and my body is craving extended rest.  And after spending two of the last three winters home like that, I think that's just where my brain is going with it.  But I can't deny that the cold and the new year and the memories of where we were last year have sucked me in a bit.  It's hard to not remember the turmoil and have some degree of fear that we could have that again.  We never expected any of it, but it happened.  It was a sobering reminder, for sure.

Adding to the mix this year, of course, is Jacob's bone cyst.  His bone specialist appointment is tomorrow morning, and I'm hoping that when we come out we will have a course of action and a timeline for getting this thing fixed.  After a few weeks of the boot, I think we're all quite eager to make some progress.  On the bright side, he gets along pretty well with it and his immediate pain in that area has subsided, so it would appear his lacrosse injury just aggravated it.  Still, the boot is destroying all of his beloved Adidas pants (polyester sports pants and Velcro are a bad combo) and the novelty of just "supporting" his lacrosse team has worn off, so we'd really like to get this show on the road and work toward a real solution.  I think we're mostly eager to find out how soon he can play lacrosse again (especially since we just got the deposit notice for spring lacrosse), and baseball is around the corner, too.  I'd also like to know what to expect in terms of pain level, recovery, and missed school.  We're just ready for progress!

I guess these days I'm finding myself hesitant to celebrate the new year.  Given our history I'm worried about illness, worried about surprises, and generally unexcited about three or more months of cold, snowy weather.  I know it should be an opportunity to make positive changes in our lives, but I'm honestly not sure where to begin.  But at least tomorrow can be a starting point for some sort of progress...I hope.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year, Same Old Problems

So, we're 23 hours into 2016 and it's clear that no amount of New Year's resolutions or best intentions would have done me a darn bit of good...if I actually bothered to make them.  Tonight was an epically bad night with Jacob and I am so exhausted of having the same stupid arguments over and over with him.  This is absolute misery. 

What do you do when you can't do something anymore but you can't actually quit, either?  I simply cannot properly mother him anymore.  Simply walking out isn't really an option, but at this point I feel like I'm just making it worse and shouldn't be here at all.  People may pooh-pooh that, but someday that kid is going to be sitting in therapy talking about how his mom constantly put him down and then gave up on him.  But in reality I've gotten to the point where beating around the bush doesn't work.  I have to specifically explain to him how his personality flaws are making it impossible to parent him.  I have to help him understand that his actions make it appear that he cares for no one else but himself, and that he is completely inconsiderate and rude and miserable to be around most of the time. 

He gets everything he could have asked for for Christmas, and still finds things to complain about not having.  He gets special treatment one time and then proceeds to whine and complain every subsequent time when he doesn't get the same treatment.  He completely ignores our requests but then whines incessantly when we don't instantly do what he wants, no matter what we may be doing at the time.  He complains about how his brother chases him, and then turns around and encourages Carter to do it, only to scream loudly and complain when Carter catches him and hits him (and no, the hitting isn't OK either, but he should know that instigating the chase puts him at risk for that).  He thinks he knows everything, and if something doesn't agree with his opinion, it can't possibly be true.  I was trying to explain to him tonight that almost every time I go somewhere with Jacob, I have to worry about him being inappropriate or touching something or simply not listening.  And then I said that, sure, sometimes I do have to yell at Carter, but most of my trips out with him are actually fun.  We talk, he helps me, he hugs me, and it's so nice not having to argue all the time.  And he flat-out told me that I was wrong, mostly on the basis of one story of Carter melting down at Target.  That is literally one of less than a handful of times it has ever happened, and despite me acknowledging that Carter isn't perfect, apparently in his mind that one incident makes it impossible for the good stuff to ever be true.  It's infuriating to have a know-it-all seven-year-old constantly try to tell you you're wrong.  He told me earlier during fight #1 of the night that he is a grown-up.  Seriously?!  Just because you're not Carter's age does not mean you're no longer a kid.

Somehow everything comes back to being my fault.  It can never be his fault.  Earlier he had such a smart mouth that he was banished to his room.  I simply couldn't take the constant backtalk anymore.  I truly just needed some quiet and some peace apart from him.  But of course he wouldn't just take his punishment and he opened his door after I shut it.  Angry that he wouldn't just stay in there and be quiet, I opened the door further and of course he had his head right up against the door when he opened it and of course when I opened it it banged him in the head.  And of course it was all my fault, even though he opened the door when he was told to keep it closed.  And then he had his feet (and his boot) on the wall while laying near his door, so I physically moved his legs away from the wall, and of course he said I hurt his good leg doing that.  I'm apparently the one making all of the rules he doesn't want to follow, and I'm the problem when I discipline him for not following them.  Craig does his fair share of disciplining, but I'm the bad guy all the time.

For the first time in a long time, we've had to threaten that we might need to send him somewhere...and we mean it.  We are just not functional right now and I'm willing to try almost anything.  Of course, he thinks we're kidding.  He simply cannot fathom that we could be telling the truth.  But if we ever did figure out where to send him, of course we'd be the bad guys for giving up on him or not loving him enough...even though our efforts are all out of love and he leaves us with no other choice.    

Even worse, this atmosphere makes marriage very hard.  It's mostly the exhaustion factor, but it manifests in a few different ways.  First, there's the matter of balance.  Jacob may act a little better for Craig, but he also wants to be with Craig all the time and I know he needs a break.  I try to take over and often it doesn't go well.  If I try to give Craig a night off from bedtime, inevitably Jacob will give me trouble and I just need to walk away before I do something I will regret.  But Craig having to spend all of his time with Jacob isn't fair either, so there's frustration when we can't split that time effectively.  Another element of it is sounding like a broken record.  You want to back up your partner, but sometimes you're so tired of repeating the same rule or yelling about the same problem that you feel like you simply can't do it anymore...for your sanity or simply based on your energy level.  Or maybe you simply don't agree with their tactics, and then it becomes an argument, either in the moment (if it's something inexcusable) or later.  And when you're arguing, who wants to snuggle in bed afterward?  We're just so tired from having to be "on" for Jacob all the time that our evenings after he's in bed are mostly spent in silence, decompressing with our electronics.  The good news is that we're still aware that we love each other and are ultimately in this together, but it is not a great environment in the meantime. 

We've talked a lot lately about how we need to get away together, without the kids.  For more than just a night, ideally.  We haven't taken a real trip alone together since before Jacob was born.  It's been a handful of overnights and one whirlwind two-night trip for a Knighthawks championship game.  My parents used to go away for a week, and  45 years later they're still going strong and I'm not scarred for life.  We mention even a night away and Jacob is offended we don't want to take him.  In fact, he tells us he's going.  Like he has any control over that.  But the fact of the matter is, we can't even speak complete sentences to each other without one kid or another interrupting us.  We can't think straight with two kids spouting constant noise and nonsense.  It has exhausted us and we just can't communicate effectively.  Sometimes it's hard to remember what it was like before kids, or why you were so excited to get married and start a family in the first place.  We know it has been there and could be again, but right now it's just hard.

I don't know what to say or do anymore.  Nothing seems to make an impact with Jacob.  And anything that might will, again, somehow be our fault.  I have never met such an impossible kid in my life.  And my fear is that it's only going to get worse, that someday he will insist we don't love him and try to run away or that his impulsive, inconsiderate behavior will get him into real trouble.  No matter how much we tell him we love him (never hearing it back, of course), I know that he thinks everything we do is just to make his life miserable.  And you know, sometimes I can see why he might feel that way.  But when you've already tried the "easy way" and it doesn't work, you have no choice but to attempt the "hard way" next...and the vicious circle starts all over again when he thinks we're just being jerks.  He doesn't see the easy way when it's in front of him and seems to think we just start with the hard way, like that's our first choice. 

Sorry, I know I'm rehashing stuff I've already talked about.  But tonight was just another refresher of how big our problems are and my complete lack of a solution on how to deal with them.  We love Jacob so much, but all the love in the world won't get him to listen, or so it seems.  I can't wait to get back to our counseling (we've been off due to the holidays/school break), but it's becoming more apparent we might need to do more.  As much as our family dynamics need help, his difficult personality is at the center of it all and I worry that without help, there's always going to be something getting poisoned by it.  I truly hope this is the year that we find out how to make this better.  We need it to be.  Time is passing us by and we'll never get it back.  No family should have to live like this.  We should be having fun and enjoying watching our kids grow.  Instead we're just surviving.  We need better, for all of our sakes.