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{October 27, 2010}   One HELLUVA Week

I’m usually pretty calm. I mean, I’m a little high strung about some things, I suppose, but I’m UBER calm with my kids. Even on my worst days, I’m proud to say that there is very little they can do to push my buttons, or freak me out.

However, a 105.1 degree fever is definitely enough to make me almost shit my pants. Not at the fault of the kid, obviously, but at 4 am when baby is screaming and her temperature is up to 105 degrees, it definitely borders on new-underwear time. Let me back it up…

So, Friday night was pretty rough…Clearly LG (Little Girl) was having some issues when she went to bed, but nothing huge. She just wanted to be held (happy to oblige) and cuddled a bit. However, she woke up a couple hours later, and was pretty unhappy. Even after being fed, bum changed, rocked, sung to…Nothing. Inconsolable. Usually, she’s pretty easy to settle. She’s good at letting me know what she wants and getting her needs met. I quickly figured out that it was probably her teeth giving her trouble, though I couldn’t feel anything for sure. Gave her some homeopathics, and finally got her settled enough for bed at a very late hour.

Saturday night, all hell broke loose. Up all night, I was, until I finally just pulled her into bed with me. She was fine, as long as some part of her was touching me. As soon as she couldn’t “find” me, in her sleep, she’d whimper and cry. I’d take her hand, or cuddle her, or rub her back, and she was immediately back to sleep. I woke up at about 2am, wondering why my arm was on fire. Only, it wasn’t. My kid’s was. OMG.

I took her temperature, and at that point, it was 103 degrees. Yikes. I checked her mouth. Gums on fire, and a molar about to erupt. Neat.

Still stumbling in delerium, I called our local “Health Link” number to talk to a nurse and find out if I had to take her to the ER for the fever. Fevers are important for fighting infections, but let them get too high, and you risk seizures/brain damage. Both my children have a propensity for those things already because of their medical histories.

However, the nurse on the phone, while helpful, definitely raised some questions in me. First, she did give me some good, current first aid info about fevers…The protocol seems to change so often. I’ve taken Infant/Child First Aid on 4 different occasions (had to for previous jobs), and the recommendations for fevers have NEVER been exactly the same every time. Evidently, you are no longer supposed to give them baths, or do too much to try to cool them down, because if they begin to shiver, the fever will elevate more rapidly. Hm. Interesting. Good to know.

But she did say something, almost chuckling as she said it: “The Canadian Pediatric Society has determined that there is no link between teething and fever.”

Pffft.  “Are you kidding me?”, I blurted out. Whoops. Guess 2am is not my finest hour.

“Uh, yeah,” she said, barely stifling a laugh. “It seems odd to me, too. I raised 4 children, and they always had fevers when they teethed, but hey, who am I?”

I like this lady.

“Yeah,” I said. “I guess thousands of years of mothers are wrong, eh?”

“Guess so!”

After running through a checklist intended to rule out possible serious issues/infections, she also told me that until the fever reached 105.8 degrees (OMG!) that she should be treated at home with Tylenol. No can do, said I. My kid can’t have Tylenol. Ibuprofen then. I conceded that if the fever got bad enough, I would, indeed, administer Ibuprofen, but preferably not before, since drugs sometimes do as much unseen damage, in my opinion, as they do good, if they do any good at all. LG has some tendency for tummy troubles, and I didn’t think it would help to exacerbate the situation unnecessarily.

LG’s fever got up to 104 degrees that night, until finally, at 5am, I checked her temp., and it was down to 100 degrees. At 5:45, it was down to 98 degrees. Thank the flying spaghetti monster. The kids and I slept late that morning, including LB (Little Boy), who’d been kept awake by the commotion, poor gaffer.

Monday night, however, things only got worse. Not only did she have a wicked bad fever that reached its height at 105.1 degrees, but she screamed, and screamed, and screamed in discomfort. She was up every half hour, and was absolutely miserable. This time, I did pull out the Infant Advil, unfortunately (a hard thing for a crunchy mom to do, trust me!), as well as using homeopathic teething remedies and putting some nutmeg on her gums, a remedy my Dad always swore by for tooth pain. At this point, I just wanted her pain to stop. In spite of the Canadian Pediatric Society’s claims, my baby is making it blatantly clear that her teeth are the root of this particular problem, including incessant chewing, drooling and rubbing her cheeks. Plus, during the day, she’s totally OK. Tired from her long nights, but otherwise OK. Active, eating well, drinking, etc. Teething tends to worsen at night. Quite the friggin’ coincidence, wouldn’t you say?

Last night, I staged a preemptive strike, and gave her Advil before putting her to bed. No temperature. Tonight, so far she is OK, but I take nothing for granted. The night is young.

Just as a rundown, on top of LG’s long nights, I am packing for the four of us to go on vacation in another country, trying to clean, hire a cat/house-sitter, and dealing with a particularly fearful situation with regard to my son, which I can’t share here. I can’t do anything but wait it out, but let’s just say, I’m glad to be getting out of the country for a few days.

I’m getting a facial while I’m on vacation, Goddammit.

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{October 18, 2010}   They’ll Tire Out Eventually!

Aaaah, the well-meaning words echoed to new mothers everywhere, as their babies colic, teeth, fuss and sob.

I truly wish someone would explain to me the appeal of letting my child “cry it out”. It is a suggestion I get over, and over, and over, by mothers of all different levels of experience. I am working on dissecting it a little…Trying to understand it while not attaching judgement. I am trying to look at it from a strictly pragmatic position.

Let’s break it down by using some rationalizations that I have heard from others:

“You’re no good to them if you’re tired and frustrated!”

Frustration. I get this. To an extent. Many of the advocates of the CIO method have touted it as some kind of child abuse prevention method. I have to admit, this is hard for me to understand. Not because I’ve never been tired, frustrated, or crabby…My daughter’s first few months were rough. She was a sick kiddo, and cried a lot. But because hitting my kid would simply be counterintuitive to me. Ask me again when they’re teenagers. 😉

“You can’t be with her every second…You need ‘you’ time.”

Okey doke. So, while my child is screaming in the next room, I’m supposed to put up my feet and enjoy some bonbons? If my child is crying, I am stressed. It is physiological for women, I think. Even if it’s a stranger child on a plane, the sound of a baby crying raises my blood pressure and makes me want to jump up and tend to them. Maybe it’s not physiological, and I’m just a creep. I don’t know. But babies crying stimulate a response in me that I have seen in many, many women, with and without children. Point being, I won’t be relaxing anyway. I might as well be with her.

“They need to learn to soothe themselves to sleep.”

When was the last time you found it soothing to essentially scream yourself to sleep? How did you wake up feeling the next morning if and when you have cried yourself to sleep? I know I end up feeling like garbage. Puffy eyes, headache, hoarse voice, fatigue. Sounds restful, doesn’t it?

“They’ll learn to manipulate you if you go to them every time!”

I don’t think babies manipulate. I think they’re very clear. They want their moms. There’s no hidden agenda there. They want love, affection, food, a change, whatever. It’s not manipulative if the kid needs love. Instead of thinking of it as a “scheme”, why not just give them the affection they are seeking? Is that really a bad thing?

“They have to learn to be away from you!”

Really? Why does an infant need to learn to be away from its primary caregiver? They’re infants. Their entire existence is based on the need/relaxation cycle…Having their needs met when they express them. I’m not sure I can buy into the theory that depriving my child of her needs is a way to make her somehow stronger.

Here’s the other thing that I wish others understood. My children (siblings) are adopted. We are adopting them from foster care, and were not expecting to have children so young placed with us. When they were, it definitely took a lot of adjustment, not just for us, but ESPECIALLY for them. Children grieve. I truly believe this, though my friends who are not involved in adoption in any way think I’m a crackpot when I say it. Even babies understand when those with whom they are familiar are just…gone. Because we were expecting older kids, it was a little tough for us to know how to express to non-verbal children that they were safe. That we weren’t going anywhere. And that we knew they were hurting and wished they weren’t.

My son was 16 months old when he came home, and lost everything he knew…His foster family, his home, his pets. Everything. He was afraid. He grieved openly. He didn’t sleep for at least a couple of months. He was confused.  He had suffered 2 MAJOR losses in his life already. His First Mother and his foster parents, to whom he was very attached.

Our daughter, while only 10 weeks at the time, had also suffered two losses in that short period of time. Her First Mother, and then her foster family.

Kids don’t just “forget”. Maybe cognitively, but not physiologically. They remember those losses, and their grief is locked up in there somewhere. It’s my job to respond to their needs so they know that they CAN trust. So they know that they WON’T lose us. I don’t know if it will get through, but I know that NOT responding to their needs won’t get it done. I tend to be verbal (shocker), which is why I do so well with older kids. I can talk to them, and I can often get through. Babies were a huge challenge and learning curve, but I knew that what I couldn’t express verbally, I could express with consistency, nurturing and unconditional love. It’s really the only tool I have, so letting them cry, in my view, would really send them a glaring message, wouldn’t it?

In the end, I think it worked out. I can’t say for sure it was because we didn’t use CIO, but I think it’s probably a good bet that they feel secure that their needs will be met. Both kids are very affectionate, expressive, and have healthy attachments to us. Hopefully, as they get older and work through their grief, they will be able to express it (not necessarily to us, if they don’t want to) because they have not been made to feel unsafe in expressing emotions, even difficult/negative ones.

I am not writing this to judge other Moms. We all have our way of doing things, and while I may disagree with another mother’s methods, I am certainly in no position to be sanctimonious, and I hope that’s not how this post reads. I am just really trying to understand what, if any benefit is to be reaped in allowing an infant or small child to cry his/herself to sleep. Because I am at a loss.



{October 14, 2010}   You Know What’s A Bitch?

Getting passports for kids not yet legally adopted for a trip you don’t particularly want to go on with people you really don’t like that much.

More on that at a later date. Thanks for listening.



{October 9, 2010}   The Calm After the Storm

I’m feeling much more peaceful now, after the last post. Yikes. I’m sorry you had to read that, but either I posted it here, or I sent it to my sister, and I thought that this was probably the lesser of two evils. I swear, my head was going to pop right off my neck if I didn’t get it out. I’ll explain more another day. I’m not in the mood to be angry.

So, onto much happier topics…

Isn’t it pretty?

This is a piece of relatively “unspoiled” land, just outside the  town hamlet where we want to live. It is roughly 107 acres, and is listed at $449K.

No, we did not suddenly come into money. We don’t want all 107 acres. But, whomever purchases that land will likely subdivide it, and sell it off, 5 acres at a time, for rural homes. THAT is what we are looking for.

So, if this is the land that we are waiting on, so be it. If it takes 2 years, so be it. I can be patient. No, I can’t. That’s a lie. But, I must. I keep telling myself that if we work hard, save hard, and don’t settle, that things will work out.

I just REALLY want to be out there before the kids start school. I’ve driven by this land. It’s beautiful. Treed, and backs onto a wildlife reserve, which is amazing. We would keep most of it just like this–raw, except for the front 1-2 acres where the house/yard/garden/fruit trees/chicken coop would be.

I just keep thinking of my kids. I have NEVER loved another human being like I love them. I love them so much, that it physically hurts at times, and I mean that. I have never been so grateful for anything in my life. And I want them to have this. I want them to be able to play outside amidst trees and flowers. I want them to be able to eat fresh eggs (hopefully my son outgrows his allergy), and I want them to occasionally wake up to a deer in the yard. I want them to know where their food comes from, and know their neighbours. I grew up in a smaller community, and there are aspects of that community that simply cannot be replicated in the city. I guess it’s natural to want to give your kids the best of what you had, and spare them the worst.

I’ll keep you posted on how the land shapes up. It’s been on the market since February, and no takers yet. We’ll see.



{September 30, 2010}   3 Awesome Things

1) My kids are so cool. Today, I was ahead of the game on almost everything (LOVE when that happens!) and got to play with my kids ALL DAY. Well, anytime they were awake, that is. I guess another awesome thing is that they both napped at the same time today, which lately has been a total no-go.

2) My son’s beautiful curls are long again, and he needs a hair cut. But he’s so cute when he wakes up with bedhead that it kills me to cut it.

3) On the topic of hair, my previously bald baby is now a beautiful 12 month old girl who is rockin’ the toddler mullet. So awesome.



{September 27, 2010}   Dear Anxiety:

Go fuck yourself. Please. Just let me close my eyes at 1am without racing thoughts and shortness of breath.

Thanks.

P.S. – I know you think it’s funny when the baby wakes me up 10 minutes after I can FINALLY fall asleep. Well, laugh it up, Chuckles. It’s not funny. Nor will I be particularly funny at 6am. I’ll see you then, Asshat. With bells on.

Sincerely,

Very Sleepy & Anxious AnnaBelle



{August 29, 2010}   It’s NOT Getting Any Easier

I am missing my Dad SO MUCH. Today was a Mommy & Boy day. We had fun, we went to visit “Gaga” (which is what he calls my mother…If she only knew the woman with whom she shares that monicker…HA HA!). Anyway, we took the route out to her home that goes through/past the teeny town (hamlet) where M and I are looking at properties.

When I was a kid, if we drove by cows, my Dad would always honk the horn and say, “Hello, Ladies!”. And now, barring a compelling reason to NOT honk the horn, I always do the same.

We drove by a field of cows today, and I looked back at A, making ‘mooooo’ sounds, and I honked the horn,  and called, “Hello, Girls!”. He giggled, and I chuckled, thinking about how my Dad would tell my son at some point about his youth spent cattle ranching, and some of the funny stories that came with it.

A will never hear those stories from my Dad.

You know, I am beginning to understand this loss, and sometimes, I even feel a sense of peace. But it’s things like this…The little things…that really hurt. He got to see all his other grandchildren grown, and he LOVED my kids. He told EVERYONE about them. He thought they were the cutest, funniest, smartest kids he’d ever known. There was something invigorating to him about having wee ones around again, after so many years…

I don’t know. I’m rambling. And I’m sorry. My point, though, is that the loss seems to become more and more profound as time goes, and as I tally up the moments that I will never have again, or that my children will never have at all.

It makes my heart ache, and I feel so fucking cheated. I’m not even 30 years old, for Christ’s sake, and he’s gone already. I feel like everyone else got so much more time.

But then I remember a buddy of mine who lost his Dad when he was 14,  and many I’ve known who never had fathers in their lives at all…and I think to myself how blessed I am to have had him as long as I did. I guess there’s that. He saw me grown. He walked me down the aisle. He met my kids. I also got to see him in his older years. Much more subdued, mellowed out, and finally not swimming upstream.

Right now, though, I just don’t give a shit. I want him back, to say all the things I wish I could have said if I’d have been at the hospital just a little sooner.

FUCK.



My husband and I are considering moving out of the city. I’m tired of the vandals, the poisonous grass (I’ll explain later) and the noise. If you’d have told me 10 years ago that I’d want to move back to my hometown, or one like it, I’d have called you a filthy liar and throat-punched you. But, here we are.

I feel, now that my Dad has passed, that our family chain is broken. We all adored my Dad, and often, he was what kept all of us talking to one another. He was the “glue”, if you will. We didn’ t want to hurt him; he so hated to see his family at odds with one another. But now, we have nothing holding us together, it seems. And suddenly, I am afraid of being alone, and isolated, and having no family at all. I made a decision a long time ago to remove myself from family politics, but since politics and infighting are such an enormous part of the family tapestry, it limits my relationship with many of them, because I am not willing to gossip, badmouth, or engage in any other mean-spirited behaviors that I would tell my children not to engage in.

I am worried about my mother, as well…She isn’t terribly independent at the best of times, and now that he’s gone, I fear for her in many ways. My siblings are so…unpredictable, and sometimes even volatile. Though they live near her, I don’t feel confident leaving them to be her support system.

I feel isolated living here, not quite an hour away. And I have also changed somewhere along the way. Where I once craved the activity and community of the city, I now find the noise and stress to be vexations to my spirit, and worry about my children growing up in a place where they breathe in nothing but exhaust and pesticide residue.

Oh, I said I would explain later about the poisonous grass… Well, the city I live in, once upon a time, agreed to keep pesticides and other chemicals off the grass that is in parks and school yards. Well, apparently they had a change of heart…We live in a house that backs onto two school yards and the community hall. My husband had my allergy-ridden son outside playing and rolling in the grass, when suddenly, WAAAAAAAAAAAY over yonder, he sees a TEENY little orange sign, in the middle of a 6 acre field. He walks over to it, and reads that the area was sprayed with chemicals the day before and to KEEP OFF GRASS.

FUCK!

So, he scooped up A, ran him home, stripped the poor little guy, and put him in a tub with epsom salts, powdered oatmeal and clay to try to prevent a reaction. He still got a rash, but at least there was nothing more serious.

But…Jesus…Really? Really, City? Must you? They at least could have warned us, considering they were renegging on a promise they made this very year. Sigh.

Anyway, I just want an acre or two of land, outside a small town, where I can feel safe knowing that the only thing on the ground is what I or the Creator has put there.

Selling our house in the city, and finding something affordable, however, is a whole ‘nother story.

I think maybe I was always a country mouse at heart. I’ll keep you posted about our progress, or lack therof.



{August 22, 2010}   Kids are HILARIOUS

In an effort to clean up my trucker mouth in the presence of my newly verbal 2 year old, I have reverted to the vernacular that was such a part of me once upon a time…When I worked with kids on a daily basis.

Some of my favorite expressions of surprise/joy are: “Holy Hannah!”, “Oh my stars!” and “Oh my word!” (all of which are ultimately used in situations when I would ordinarily say “Holy fuck”, “Holy Shit”, or “Jesus Christ”. The last one doesn’t offend me so much, but it does my husband, so there you go.

I also have silly words/phrases that are meant to substitute, but still sound like the real thing. “Oh, for FOX CREEK!” is a favorite of mine, as is “SUGAR!”.

Then, there are the silly words that are NOT substitutions for profanity, but are entertaining nonetheless. My son will be the only one in the first grade who will be wearing “pantaloons” and eating “roast beast”. Oy.

So, it looks like I did it all in the nick of time. Because today, as I was trying to get my son dressed and I dropped his shirt on the floor, he put his little hands on his rosy little cheeks, and exclaimed, “OH, STARS!”

3 weeks ago, I’d have been telling you about my son’s first F-bomb, I guarantee it.



{August 20, 2010}   Today, I am grateful for…

My kids.

My husband.

The time I had with my Dad.

My wonderful friends, who are being so understanding as I recede into relative solitude for a while.

My kids.

My kids.

Online scrabble.



et cetera