Monday, April 27, 2009

Don't pity me, but maybe a little sympathy...

Rarely do I wallow in the thought "this would so much easier with one baby."

For one thing, often times it's simply not true. Watching two children play happily and safely in the living room is no harder than watching one. And often it can be much more fun. Pushing two content children in a stroller is no harder than pushing one. And typing this while two children FINALLY nap is no different than it would be if only one were asleep.

But there are times when I think, "Oh my God this would SO MUCH EASIER if there were only one of you!" Of course I am not really wishing away one of my children. I'm the mother of twins, Lola and Jack. And it really seems that's the way it's supposed to be. In fact, I just chuckled out loud even thinking of being the mom of just one baby. Preposterous!

But when one baby is sick and wants to snuggle and the other baby is happy and wants to play, my very best mommy-of-twin skills are put to the test!

Lola has a viral fever and has been running a temperature between 100 and 102 since Saturday. As long as her fever stays in check she's fairly content to play as usual, just maybe committing a little less energy to her pursuits. But when the Motrin starts to wear off and the fever starts to creep up (as it inevitably does before 6 hours between doses) she becomes uncharacteristically clingy and only wants to be held. Our ped says this shouldn't last past Wednesday or Thursday. As long as she stays hydrated and her fever responds to the Motrin there is no cause for concern.

No cause for concern?
What about the concern that I won't be able to occupy an energetic and often destructive 13 month old boy while comforting and forcefully hydrating his sick twin sister.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Decisions decisions...

I make hundreds of mommy decisions every day. Some are certainly more pressing or consequential than others. Many of them consist of a some sort of internal debate. Usually the debate is short. Sometimes it goes on for days.

If there was a live feed of one of these debates going through my mind throughout the day it might read something like this:

"Can he finish his breakfast sitting in a dirty diaper? Would you want to finish you breakfast sitting in a dirty diaper? Well, I wouldn't want to finish my breakfast sitting in any diaper, so maybe the analogy doesn't fit. If he finishes his breakfast sitting in a dirty diaper will he get a diaper rash? Will it be a bad one? Will it be painful? Or will it be the kind that only lasts through the afternoon? Would you want to tell anyone he finished his breakfast sitting in a dirty diaper? Is anyone ever going to know he finished his breakfast sitting in a dirty diaper?"

Most moms will be familiar with inner debate on the necessity of a bath:

"The kids aren't dirty, they're not getting baths tonight. I'm tired, I don't feel like kneeling at the tub, I don't feel like getting wet, and they really aren't that dirty. No baths. Definitely no baths. But they really do enjoy the bath. They love filling the cups up with water and trying to drink out of them. No, they aren't dirty and I am sooooo tired. It's been such a long day already. No, no baths. But the routine... they eat dinner, take baths, put on jammies, have a bottle, watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, read Goodnight Moon and Moo Ba La La La and go to bed. If I skip part of the routine will they be thrown off? Will the rest of the routine not go well? And I guess maybe they are a little dirty. Is that yogurt in his hair? Oh, and they played outside a little bit. Are they itchy from the grass? I bet I could wipe them down with baby wipes and that would take care of it. What about the yogurt? Do you think anyone will notice it tomorrow?"

So the debate du jour?

"Grapes. Choking hazard or delicious juicy healthy snack. Do I cut them in half? Sure, that's not so hard. Do I peel them? Now that's just ridiculous! So yes to grapes, halved but not peeled. Done. Decided. But maybe I should do some internet research first. Yes, I'll post the grape question on a couple of mom message boards and see what they say. And I'll look on Ask Dr. and see what he says. And then maybe... wait a second! This is grapes we're talking about. Just sit the kids in the high chairs, cut some grapes in half, give them one at a time, and see what happens. Yeah, this whole thing isn't rocket science. It's grapes. Just do it. But maybe I should call a couple of mom friends and see what they say. When did they feed their kids grapes? Yeah, that's what I'll do. Call on the sisterhood. If it takes a village, than poll the villagers. Excellent. No, ridiculous. Really, it grapes. Just grapes. No villagers, no message boards, just me and my kids and some grapes. Cut in half of course."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I think I have figured out the reason I have been putting off finishing the story of Jackson's arm. Apart from the usual piles of laundry and dishes and other chores that keep me from writing (all real reasons that often keep me from prompt posting), there's an emotional reason for my procrastination. Simply put, finishing the telling of Jackson trip to the hospital feels like letting go of the guilt I'm carrying around and putting the matter behind me. And I guess I'm just not quite ready to let it go. I don't mean to sound dramatic. And I don't mean to give the impression that I'm moping around constantly beating myself up about the experience. But I have been holding on to some guilt. I feel guilty. I know there will be some people who are chuckling or rolling their eyes. They will be thinking I have a flair for the dramatic and it's high time I just let this go. Well, I'm trying. But it's hard. Try and imagine what it's like to actively cause harm to your child. Not he gets hurt while you're busy with something else and not paying enough attention. But you actually cause the harm, the tears, the pain. It really really sucks. I feel like I should have been better than this. I feel like this is a permanent blemish on my mommy scorecard.

And I guess that's where we land. The blemish on my scorecard. I feel like there's a big fat F somewhere on my permanent record. On my first year report card I certainly didn't get all A's but I feel that at least I made A's, B's and C's (Ok, maybe there were a few D's thrown in at the beginning, but it was really tough at first). But now, early in the second year, I send my kid to the hospital and earn a big fat F for failing to lift him safely out of his wagon.

Certainly I am affected by how I think people perceive me and my big fat F. I would be lying and no one would believe me anyway if I said that I don't care what others think about my parenting. It would be a bunch of bull if I said that I don't imagine people leering or snickering about my mommy blemish when I'm not around. If I said I don't worry about coming up short when compared to other moms I know then I would be... well...full of crap.

But all that worry and fear about what others think only becomes a big deal because of my own personal insecurities. The way that F makes me feel is the real thing, the thing that comes first. And right now that blemish on my report card still makes me feel pretty bad. Hopefully by next semester the sting of this poor grade will fade. Hopefully I will be able to chuckle about how big this seemed when it happened and how it seemed like I would never get back on the honor role. And hopefully next year when I look back at this and chuckle I will be doing so standing on top of a whole bunch of mommy A's.
I never thought I would hear myself say, "We don't put milk in the toilet."
It's a stool, it's a boat...
"I need this toy and my milk cup. And how am I going to pick up that ring?"
Happy Hippy baby

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jackson's Arm part 2

You know when something terrible happens and you manage to hold it together for so long, and then you speak to either you mother or your husband? For some reason just the sound of their voice reduces you to hysterics. Poor Aaron. I'm sure all he could understand in between sobs was "Jackson" and "Children's Hospital". I tried to assure him that Jackson was fine. This wasn't a life threatening situation. Jackson wasn't even crying at this moment. But all I could do was wail into the phone. I can imagine this is every husbands nightmare; you wife calls you at work because you kid needs to go to the emergency room and she can't stop crying long enough to tell you what's wrong.

Of course Aaron jumped in the car and rushed home. He practically ran in the front door and through my sobs managed to hear my mumbling that Lola had a dirty diaper. While I'd been walking around holding Jackson trying to pretend like I was calm, my daughter had just been hanging out, playing with her toys and pretty much ignoring both of us. Thank God for that. Aaron changed Lola, I made a bottle for Jack and got us ready to leave for the HOSPITAL, and Grammy (Aaron's mom) arrived to take over Lola duty. Off we went for our first family Emergency Room visit.

On the way to Children's another idea hit me: "Am I going to be investigated by Child's Services?!?" This is unbearable. I am a fit mother! I really am! I do so much right. I am imagining making my case to the investigator, saying "But my kids drink milk out of sippy cups like they're supposed to, they eat 5 different fruits and vegetables per day, they have bed times and routines and rituals and we sing and read books and build block towers and we don't even watch too much tv!" All the things I would say to justify my competence as a parent came flooding into my mind. And then of course running parallel to that flood was the steady trickle of, "How could you? How are you going to look anyone in the face again?" I asked Aaron if he thinks Child Services is going to get involved and he looked at me, all puffy faced and panicking, and said with just the right combination of assurance and humor that he definitely does NOT think Child Services will be getting involved.

Carrying my son, I sheepishly followed my husband in to the Children's Hospital Emergency Room. A nurse waved us back into a small room to begin the admitting process. She looks at me and asks, "Patients Name?" Simple, right? Patients Name. But through my filter of mommy guilt it sounded like "And what were you doing EXACTLY when you tried to BREAK YOU CHILD'S ARM?" In reality there was nothing accusatory in her tone. When she asked "Patient's Name?" she was simply asking for Jackson's name. Nothing more. Nevertheless I burst into tears.

By the end of her simple exam (weight, blood pressure, a quick look at the arm) Jackson and I were both crying. She sent us into the waiting room, blubbering and overwhelmed, to wait to be called in to see the doctor. We waited for about an hour. We looked at the fish tank. We played with the trash can. We walked and sang. To my great disappointment Jack showed absolutely no interest in the Hannah Montana playing on the tv, but we managed to keep him occupied for an hour or so with little fussing.

But around 6:30 Jackson could no longer be distracted from his hunger (he had now missed dinner and his night time bottle) and exhaustion (between 6:30 and 7 is bed time). He started to really wail and thankfully we were quickly put in a room (which really looked like supply storage area).

From that point on I think the rest of our hospital visit lasted a total of 15 minutes.

********I know, I know... get to the conclusion already. It's coming, really it is. And just to make sure all of you aren't too worried about Jackson in the meantime, this picture was taken AFTER Jackson's elbow injury. No cast, no sling. Just a happy healthy kid enjoying a day at the park with family and friends.

Check out the awesome hair! Joy!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Warning: Usually my posts are pretty upbeat. I like to think I don't usually post downers. But this time I just can't help it. If you checked in with my blog to get a little pick me up during your day then I'm sorry. Usually I can deliver. Not this time.

I'm going to post this in parts. Not because I enjoy leaving people in suspense but because I think if I don't post the part I have written I'll never finish it. Then this post will join others in the "forgotten and never-to-be-posted" blog graveyard. I will finish it. It's hard to write. It makes me sad and embarrassed. I will write and post it in stages.

Mothers out there, ever had that moment when you question your very ability to parent. When you wonder if somehow God made a mistake and you weren't actually meant to be a mother. When you're so mortified with yourself that all you can do is think, "Oh my God how am I going to look anyone in face?", "How am I going to look my kid in the face?", "How am I going to look at myself in the mirror?".

I managed to make it through 8 weeks fighting pre-term labor, almost 3 weeks in the NICU, a month at home with "preemies" who weren't supposed to leave the house because of their "fragile" health, 2 months giving my daughter caffeine medicine so her heart wouldn't forget to beat, and an entire year of caring for TWO infants without having that moment: "Oh my God how am I going to look anyone in the face?".

Wednesday I was holding Lola on my left hip and reached down to pick up Jackson. I have performed this feat, so familiar to twin moms, 20 times a day since the kids were holding up their heads. And so I thought nothing of it. I firmly held my squirming Lola and reached down to get Jackson out of his new Red Flyer wagon. I balanced Lola with my left arm and grabbed Jack under his right shoulder. I've done this a thousand times. And so I did it with confidence. Confidence that disappeared in a puff of anxiety as I heard his right elbow pop.

It was anxiety, not panic, which I felt first. I am experienced with injury. I taught gymnastics for over 6 years. I participated in competitive gymnastics for almost 15 years. I know what to look for when I hear something pop. Is there any immediate swelling? Can the child grab my hand? Is the child voluntarily moving his arm?

I know what to look for when I hear something pop in SOMEONE ELSE'S KID'S ARM. This wasn't someone else's kid. This was my kid. And his arm didn't pop while tumbling or when he fell off the balance beam. His elbow didn't pop when he fell while climbing his changing table or running while carrying a ball. His elbow popped when I picked him up. I did it. I made my kid's elbow pop.

And now he is crying. He's crying and crying and crying. Ok, but I'm used to that. Jackson cries when I say "No, don't take Lola's toy." He cries when he falls, which happens daily. He cries when he doesn't want to take a nap. "So just calmly check it out," I tell myself. "Check out Jackson's elbow and see if there's any swelling, if he will grab my hand, if he is voluntarily moving his arm." But he is crying because of something I did to him. I did this to him. The anxiety increases and panic starts to set in.

"Please don't have to go to the doctor, please don't have to go to the doctor," over and over again I think.

There's no immediate swelling, he is moving his arm but only a little bit. I put him down and offer him my cell phone on is right side. He reaches with his far left arm, not his right. He puts his right hand on the ground to begin crawling and winces. Then cries. Crap, now I have to call the doctor. "How am I ever going to look the doctor in the face again?" I think as I dial the familiar number.

When I explain to the receptionist what happened I don't get a nurse but the doctor on the phone immediately. He explains that it could be "Nursemaids Elbow," a common injury in which the the tendon slips to the wrong side of the bone. Not a really big deal, he tells me, but he needs to be seen. The doc could do it but the office is almost closed and he can't stick around today. So I'm going to need to take him to Children's Hospital. WHAT!?! The hospital. The EMERGENCY ROOM! Oh my god, I've hurt my child and now I have to take him to the emergency room. I felt so incredibly low. This is precisely what I'm supposed to prevent. My heart sunk. I called Aaron and as soon as he answered I burst into hysterical tears.

********* I assure everyone out there in blog-land that Jackson is fine. There is no lasting problem with his arm. I was and continue to be far more scarred by this experience than Jackson. I'm going to stop here and post the rest another day. Hopefully tomorrow. Please pardon the interruption. ***********

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jackson Tormented

I noticed recently that Jackson has developed an affinity for balls. He will play with any shape or size ball, but really the bigger the better. So Monday I was waiting for a perscription in RiteAid and saw one of those tall wire baskets full of rubber balls I remember from when I was kid. I bought 2, convinced Lola would pretty much ignore hers and Jackson would absolutely love his. I was far more right than I wanted to be.

Jackson carried one of those balls around all afternoon. At one point he even tried to carry both of them. The impossibility of the feat frustrated him greatly. If his sister approached him he would run away panicking that he couldn't get away from her fast enough; she might steal his ball. Of course this made for a game and she enjoyed tormenting him throughout the afternoon. In one particularly frightened escape his feet couldn't keep up with his desire to flee and he fell. Rather than drop the ball and catch himself with his hands he fell forward onto the ball and bounced right on to his face. Of course I consoled him as he cried, holding him tight as he held on tightly to his ball. I drew the line at taking the ball into the bathtub. That night, exhausted by my tourmented Jackson, I threw both balls outside of the deck where they remain. When I get the guts to bring them back into play I will have a nice icy cup of gin in my hand.