Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I started out writing a completely different blog post over lunch yesterday.  It was a post complaining about the onset of the "Terrible Twos" (which I don't actually believe are a thing, I think each new phase is defined by how you choose to handle it, not some magic number of months on the earth), with a dose of whining about my Hubby thrown in for good measure.  But yesterday life popped up and bit me in the ass, and has left me in a state of worry that overshadows the temper tantrum BabyBoy threw on Sunday afternoon.

For my male readers, I'd like to warn you, I'm going to talk about my lady-bits now.  Feel free to tune out if you so choose.

After BabyBoy was born, we had some decisions to make.  Pregnancy was NOT easy on me, my psoriatic arthritis did not go into remission, I had gestational diabetes, and we beat some odds around genetic makeup and age factors.   I had to wean him from breastfeeding much earlier than I'd planned or hoped in order to go back on biologic medication to control the arthritis, and we added a chemotherapy drug, methotrexate, to the treatment to try and further suppress my immune system to keep my body from destroying itself.   Risk of pregnancy complications and birth defects with this medication meant we were making a conscious decision that said "no more babies."  I would have to be off meds for 18 months before even trying to get pregnant again, which would put me firmly in the over-40 club, and I had no idea how I would be able to keep up and take care of a toddler during the time without medical intervention.

I started with Depo-provera shots at 6 weeks after giving birth, and once we decided we would not be having more kids, I switched to an IUD, good for five years.  I actually never resumed a normal menstrual cycle between breast feeding and hormone based birth control.  This has been a good thing for my anemia.  I've had some spotting, a day here, a day there, but nothing major over the past year.

Until last week.  I started bleeding, rather heavily.  I let it go through the long weekend thinking "this will stop any minute now."  Yesterday morning, I called my GP and explained what was going on.  They asked that I come in that afternoon, better to check it out than not.

We went over the basics.  Had this ever happened before? (no) When was the last time we had sex? (last week)  Was it 'normal' sex or 'vigorous sex'? (it was 'shhh, the baby's sleeping sex.  I guess that's 'normal'), Is there any pain currently? (yes).  My doctor had me gown up, and we proceeded to a pelvic exam.

Pretty much the last thing you want to hear your doctor say while wiggling your uterus around from the inside is "Hmmmmmm.  I think we need to do an ultrasound and some blood work."

We went over the list of possibilities: absolutely nothing wrong, pregnancy, ovarian cyst, endometriosis, cancer.

"Cancer." I said, flatly.

"It's a possibility.  I don't think it's a high probability, but it's a possibility."  I love my doctor for his thoroughness, his honesty and his compassion, but that was not a possibility I wanted to hear.

I went off to the lab for blood work and urinalysis, and scheduled the ultrasound for this afternoon.  Hubby and I were talking over dinner, and he latched onto a different possibility than I did.

"What are you going to do if you're pregnant?" he asked.

"I'm still trying to wrap my head around 'who raises my son if I die of ovarian cancer?', I haven't even begun to think about pregnancy.  Let me have one freak out in my head at a time, please." I answered.

I have a plaque in my kitchen.  It says "Worrying does not empty today of it's trouble, it empties tomorrow of it's strength" - Mary Engelbreit.  It is so true.  Neither of us slept well last night, I spent most of it watching BabyBoy's sleeping face and trying not to think of not being here to see him grow up.  But I can't borrow time against that possibility.  I have to find a way to be present in the moment instead of worrying what the next days will bring.

And while I'm at it, I will add this sentiment.  This is a picture of a cross-stitch sampler I made for a friend last year, when she was dealing with her own diagnosis.

For today, I choose to occupy my own life.  I choose to occupy my own mind.  I will leave tomorrow to it's own devices, it will come soon enough.

SUPER FAST UPDATE 5:08 PM: I have to run get my boy, but did want to say test results came back negative for abnormal cells, infection, STD's and pregnancy.  Ultrasound revealed a rather large fibrod cyst and that my IUD has "gone on a walk-about" and is no longer in the right place.  (sort of a miracle I'm NOT pregnant.....)  Next steps include IUD removal and discussion of cyst treatment (if any) and decisions on the right kind of birth control moving forward.  Hello relief!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Plague Baby

BabyBoy is sick.  We're not quite sure what he has, other than a "fever of unspecified origin, with suspected Roseola".  Today starts the third day of fever, and if it IS roseola, this would be the last day of fever, then we'll enter the rash phase.  I've forced the issue and Hubby and I are splitting the time taking care of him at home, since we can't take him to daycare until he's been 24 hours without a fever.

I'd like to stop and take a moment to pat myself, and my genetic contribution to BabyBoy's immune system, on the back.  My "spunky immune system" (rhuematologists phrase, not mine) causes me a lot of grief, my body is trying to eat itself, starting in the joints, and I am on a vigorous medication regimen to try and slow that down.  Even with being in a constant state of immuno-suppression, I rarely get sick (but when I do, I tend to get REALLY sick).  BabyBoy has had a number of ear infections that seem to be more related to physiology than to immunology, but all in all, he's a healthy little dude.
All eyes in a pale face. 
Also, he's sitting in a box.

Begin Rant.....
Last Sunday, a friend came over with his 13 month old to hang out with Hubby and BabyBoy while I went out to lunch and SAW A MOVIE with a girlfriend from work.   The played as toddlers do, passing toys back and forth, then passed out in BabyBoy's crib for a nap together.  On Monday, we got an e-mail: "Oh, I forgot to mention, our kid was running a fever yesterday - he just had a febrile seizure with a high fever, and the doctor thinks he has roseola."

Answer me this, internets.  WHO the FUCK brings a sick kid with a fever over to play?  As much as daycare rules annoy me when I get hit with them, they're there for a reason.  "24 hours without medication and without evidence of fever above 100 accompanied by: diarrhea or vomiting, earache, headache, signs of irritability or confusion, sore throat, rash, fatigue that limits participation in daily activities." Do I have to start requiring a doctor's note for playdates?

The thing that really chaps my ass is that this is not the first time this parental unit has brought plague-baby over to interact with others.  Does anyone remember the great stomach flu of 2011?  Yep. Plague-baby started that one too.  Oh, and it's the same couple that criticizes other parents on sleep-training and nutrition.
End Rant.

I should look at this as a positive, right?  Each infant sickness that he has builds his immune system and (theoretically) means one less cold/flu/infectious disease later.  I just hate that he's sick, and I can't help him, other than to administer Tylenol, cuddle him, make sure he drinks, and try to force food into his no-appetite mouth.  Yesterday I think he ate two pieces of apples, 3 french fries and two slices of mandarin oranges total, which is the complete opposite of our normal hoover-it-down-not-picky eater.

Not even mac and cheese balls could entice him to eat more!

Night time seems to be the worst for the fever.  Wednesday night he topped out at 103.3, last night it was 104.3.  I cradled his strong little body that was radiating SO much heat and waited for the Tylenol to work, while contemplating the best way to commit mariticide on my soundly asleep and snoring loudly husband, and I tried not to worry to much. 

My Mama used to sing a lullaby to me, best I can figure, it's a slightly lyrically-changed version of  a ballad written in 1873 called "Put My Little Shoes Away" .  I sing it to BabyBoy, because it's one of the few pieces of her I have left, but at the same time, it's a really shitty song to sing to a kid, sick or not.  I don't sing it to him when he's sick, it puts too much worry into my head and heart. 

Repeat after me: "We're entering day three of fever.  This will be done soon, he'll be fine, and we'll have a nice long weekend together."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The last week has been insanely frustrating as a parent.  Today, one of BabyBoy's teachers made a comment to me.  She said "He's really left all vestiges of babyhood behind.  He's a full-on toddler now!"  I said, "That's not exactly a compliment, is it?"  She laughed and said, "No, not exactly."
Perhaps I didn't make myself clear.   I. Said. No.

Naps are a struggle, bedtime is a full-on war - I have the bruises to prove it.  He's biting, throwing punches, kicking, and has started to utter the dreaded word: "NO!"  He also likes to take things and shriek "mine, Mine, MINE!"  He's been tugging at his ears like he'd like to pull them off his head and I've had him into the pediatrician twice to make sure it's not yet another ear infection.  (It's not).  He's working on the canine teeth on the top, one has poked through and the other is a swollen, irritated lump on his gum.  He gnaws on things and drools constantly.

The worst for me, is the clinging, sobbing drop-offs at school.  He cries like he's being abandoned, reaching for me and calling "Mama, MAMA!"  When we walk in the door, the screams if I try and put him down, and if I manage to get him off of me, he goes limp on the floor and sobs.  I've been trying to be patient, and to allow some extra time where I can sit with him, play with toys, and reassure him that it's FUN to be at school, but I'm not sure if I'm actually helping or making things worse.

He acts a little shy and clingy with Hubby, but nowhere near where he is with me.  It's that way at home, too.  He wants to see Daaah-eee, and play with him, but when the rubber meets the road, it's the Mama-way or the highway, accept no substitutes.

Singing to him last night, I changed the words to the "Tennessee Waltz".

I was dancing, with my Mama
to the Tennessee Waltz
When my Dad tried to take me away.
I said "No thank you" to my Daddy
and held on to my Mama
'cause sometimes a guy just needs his mom.

I love that he likes to be near me.  I love that sometimes just the sound of my heartbeat and me singing to him is enough to calm him down.  But he likes to sit on my lap while I go to the bathroom, and I could really use some space these days.  Someone please reassure me that this is a phase and it will pass?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Are you mom enough?

Dear Time Magazine:

It hasn't been a great week in motherhood for me.  You see, I have a chronic and degenerative disease that impacts my life every day.  Some days, I just deal with the fact that I live in a cocoon of pain, and other days I get lost in it.  This week, I have been devoured by the pain in my own body, and that's not left a lot to give anyone else; this includes my husband, my son, my job, and my own sanity. 

Yesterday, I was scheduled for an intravenous medication infusion to treat this disease.  I fought my way up the stairs, carrying my son, while biting my lip and praying under my breath that my knees would hold out to get him to the top of the stairs without dropping him.  He's 18 months old, and is really pushing to find his own boundaries in this world.  He has no real concept of how to manage his own emotions, and has been having flares of temper and frustration that come out like tantrums.  It was just one of those mornings where he wanted to push at the limits.  While I was changing his diaper, he stuck one hand in his own mess and planted it on my chest.

I burst into tears.  I lost my temper.  I yelled at him, saying,  "JUST LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE."  I took my shirt off and threw it on the ground, cleaned up his hands, and cried through changing his diaper.   Then I put him in his crib and I walked into the bathroom, sat down on the toilet, and put my head in my hands and sobbed.  He cried from his crib, and I cried in my hands, and I said to myself "I AM A HORRIBLE MOTHER."  At that moment, I hated him for not cooperating.  And I hated myself for not being able to deal with this new phase.  I hated the pain in my body, and I hated that I have no control over it.

After I calmed down a little, I went and got him.  I hugged him and said "I love you, I'm sorry" over and over.  I got him dressed for school and let him play in his room a bit while I finished getting ready.  It was Daddy's day to take BabyBoy to school, and I walked them to the door.  BabyBoy put both hands on my cheeks and offered up his face for a kiss. 

"Baaah-Bye Mama!", he said, cheerfully.  I started crying again.  "Jesus, what is WRONG with you?", my husband asked.

"I"m a horrible mom.  I don't deserve him being so sweet to me when I lost my temper and yelled at him and, and..." words turned into sobs as I leaned my head against his shoulder.  Hubby patted me and said "I can't do anything about this right now, you're not a horrible mom, but we have to go."

I waved goodbye, and sat on the couch to cry some more.  I finally pulled myself together and got in the car, to hear a discussion about your latest cover story "Are you Mom enough?" about attachment parenting, breast feeding, and complete with an incendiary cover photo of a three year old standing on a stool, breastfeeding from a cute, young mom in skinny jeans.

Thank goodness, Alien Mom is Mom Enough.

If I had to classify myself as a mother, I would say yes, I am a believer in attachment parenting.  But here's the thing, my body, my disease did not allow me to be the kind of attachment parent I wanted to be.  I couldn't wear my son in a sling because I have 4 vertebra that are fused together from degeneration caused by arthritis in my back.  I wanted to breast feed him until he self- weaned, but I couldn't because I had to wean him at 4 months in order to go back on medication that would at least prevent further damage from occurring, even though it can't give me back mobility or pain-free movement.  Each time I've had to make a decision that's prioritized my own health and longer term prospects ABOVE the way I want to mother my son, I've gone through a period of beating myself up over it.

Basically, my first reaction is to say, "Hey, fuck you Time magazine.  Who are you to call me into question?  Who are you to put me and my decisions up against other mothers and make it some sort of competition?"

After a good nights sleep, and the beginnings of some pain relief after yesterdays treatment, I'm still pretty mad at you.  Even without extenuating circumstances (And let's face it, we all have extenuating circumstances), being a mother is really hard work. 

Instead I will say, "You know what, Time magazine?  I'm not perfect, but I'm doing the best I can.  I fuck up on a regular basis, but my little boy still kisses me and smiles and it's like Christmas morning.  I can't carry him in a sling, but I can teach him to be strong and to stand up.  I can't nourish him from my body, but I can teach him to be loving and care for others.  And I can support my sister-mothers through their own struggles."

So, in answer to your question, Yes.  I am MORE than enough, in my own way. 


Not Perfect

P.S. - Fuck you, Time Magazine