Thursday, September 1, 2011

"I am not perfect, and sometimes my kids are assholes."
I love that quote. It sums up my daily life. A lot. The hubby & I are not perfect parents. We try. We really do. But we are really often 2 adults who feel like overgrown teenagers.

"Poop is funny."
Those brilliant words are from my Annabelle. And both of these quotes tie into this post perfectly.

Much to my dismay, my girls are quite familiar with poop and farts and how funny they are. Courtesy of their dad. I do not understand why men are so fascinated with poop and how funny it is. Maybe it's a psychological connection to how much they love butts? I love a good joke as much as the next guy. Hell, humor is one of the few things that helps me make it through each day. But I usually don't get the delightfulness of poop as much as my husband does. How is crop dusting your 32lb 3yr old enough to make you wet yourself because "she, she, she is the perfect height! I mean, did you see that" all fragmented by belly laughs and cracking up so hard he can't speak, that funny? My Mia cracks herself up when she toots, and both Annabelle & Tess are familiar with "sharting" and needing "blow mud". Sigh....what's a mama to do?

Tuesday evening was a busy one for us. AB had her 1st day of school, and Greg & I went to work late after getting her all settled in her new classroom. I left work to meet her at her bus stop, we went for ice cream to talk about her 1st day, then headed to cheer practice. Greg went home and tackled the babies and then Grandpa came over to help him assemble our new playhouse. By the time Annabelle and I arrived home, they were all outside, the minis "helping" as much as the adults could tolerate.

I herded the littles upstairs and into the bath tub to get them out of the way and to be honest, hose the little bastards down. How can a person get so dirty? Annabelle was instructed to play her DSi quietly while I attempted to bathe the slippery little eggs. If you haven't bathed 2 small children at the same time, or in a while, you really should experience it. It's amazing how little personal space boundaries they have. Take your sister's cup that she is drinking pee/bath water out of? No problem, she will just grab you by the hair and take it back. Try and sit under the running water by yourself? Not gonna happen. Want to impress mommy by swimming with your face in the water? A little more difficult with a 30 pounder on your back.

After most of the bath water was on the floor and Mia had successfully emptied half of an $18 bottle of baby wash into the tub, I cut my losses. I argued twice with Tessa about whether or not she could use Mimi's duck towel before I caved, and then silently complimented myself about picking my battles. I told Mia to pull the plug for the 50th time, and for the 51st time she pulled it and then quickly shut it again. I hoisted Tessie out and sent her into Mia's room to find her nightgown. "

Let's get out now Meemers" I said.


"Okay, well I am going to clean up and then it's time to get out."


Followed by a ridiculous fart. And furious giggles. Clearly her father's daughter. "Mims, let's hurry before you go potty" I tell her.


Reminding myself that trying to argue with an almost 2 yr old is about as effective as our current congress, I moved on. "Mia, I am going to put these clothes in the washer and when I come back it's time to get out." She smiled at me as she slid up and down the bathtub, living life on the edge and narrowly avoiding head injuries. I hurried the laundry to the washer, and checked on Tess who was sitting naked on the floor checking out her girly parts, all the while worrying that my stubborn ass toddler was probably drowning in what was likely 2 ounces of bath water left in the tub.

When I made it back into the bathroom, I was greeted by my sweet, innocent baby, her face usually that one of a cherub, grinning with delight. And holding suspiciously still. My gaze followed her body down to between her legs. "Mia! You didn't!" She started laughing. "Bella, go tell Daddy that I need his help right now! It's an emergency" I yelled. She came running. "What happened?" she asked. "Your sister," I said, now doubling over myself, "Has pooped a penis." "What?" she looks at me, confused. "Daddy, now," was all I could muster.

Since I certainly wasn't going to be able to clean up the offending doo, I laughed my way all the way to the bedroom to help get my other, poop free, child dressed. Greg came huffing up the stairs. I re entered the bathroom, preparing myself to get yelled at for interrupting hard work with my inability to clean up poop. Instead, I see my 36 yr old husband leaning over the bathtub taking a picture of the miraculous poo with his iphone.

"Poo Poo!" his spawn spouted to him proudly. "Mia poo poo bath!"

"You sure did Meemers," he congratulated her, practically slapping her on the back. I half expected him to hoist her up onto his shoulder and do a victory lap around the house. And really, who wouldn't be proud? Can your toddler poop phallic images? Can she also do it without peeing? One of nature's great mysteries I tell ya.

That was when my "aha" moment hit me. I suddenly realized that somehow in my house liking poop humor = being able to clean up poop without gagging. I quickly made peace with my husband's love of poop, his routine rectal honks and constant reminders that he "is turtling."

Heck, if it keeps me from having to clean up any of that nastiness, go to town with your grossness honey. Go to town.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

So it actually is a big deal?

You know that feeling when you are going through your daily life routine, plugging along, surviving but kind of ignoring the big elephant in the room?  When you think you might be getting laid off, but are ignoring it?  When every sign points to your marriage ending soon, but you keep paying for marriage counseling?  That has been my life lately.  And Greg's.  We know something is wrong with Mia.  Everyone keeps saying so.  Add to that all the stress of the impending anaphylactic reaction she will eventually have and trying to prepare all of her caregivers and family members and prevent it at the same time.  And normal life crap.  Bills, medical bills, job changes.  But we are still in denial.  We see our girl, tall, solid, vibrant, an absolute joy.  She literally skips when she walks.  She has a smile that would melt the coldest of hearts.  She has a twisted sense of humor.  Just last night when I was bathing her and Tess, she couldn't understand why Tessa was sooooooo irritated that Mimi kept sticking her finger in (as T calls it) "her booty hole".  And she laughed furiously every time Tessa shrieked about it.

It's frustrating and hard to believe when professionals keep telling you something is wrong, but your eyes and sense of reason tell you differently.  I know families deal with shock differently.  But you usually hear about someone who gets a diagnosis, and suddenly all of the symptoms start to make sense.  Or a person has a symptom and the Drs can't figure the problem.  Not our case at all.  As far as we know, she doesn't have one single symptom.  I think I was choosing to believe my eyes instead of my medical bills.  I am still putting off her next blood draw, which was supposed to be done 2 weeks ago.  I don't want to hold her down so someone can stick needles into her, and listen to her scream.  For what?  More dead ends?  For a problem she doesn't seem to suffer from?  That's my reasoning.  My world is becoming unbalanced.  I am starting to sympathize with those people who don't take their kids to Drs, they just pray for things to get better.  Sometimes I wish I prayed.  But my issues with God are a subject for an entirely different post.

And I don't think that I am that far off base.

Does this look like someone who isn't healthy?  The kid can eat a double cheeseburger like a champ.  She lifts and carries things around twice her size.  She can run lap after lap around our kitchen island, for what seems like hours.  She can sing every word to You Are My Sunshine.  And she does so, every night.  She knows that if Mommy or Daddy leaves the house, they are most likely going to work.  She waits her turn to get her hair done, and she is smart enough to know whether Annabelle or Tess have had their turn and yells at them to get in line next.  She helps herself to water from the dispenser in our fridge.  She knows which iphone is mine, and which one is Greg's just by their covers and promptly rats us out if we are snooping on one another.

I had pretty much come to the conclusion that the Dr's were wrong.  They are only human too, right?  They can make mistakes.  Sure, her blood levels were high in the hospital.  I get it.  And when we followed up they were high again.  But they are coming down.  I guess it has been 5 months, and if I think about it, that is a long time to recover from whatever it is that caused it.  But then I had a bit of a shock.  While enrolling AB in school, I realized I needed a copy of her immunization records.  I went to The Vancouver Clinic and enrolled in their nifty new online MyClinic program.  Sweet.  From home you can access immunization records, lab reports, test results.  Later that evening I checked it all out.  Pulled up Mia's labs from the end of July.  I knew that they were still slightly out of range.  Around 90 for one of the liver function tests, when the top range was supposed to be 60.  But then I pulled May's labs.  The same test had a result of 723.  Holy cow.  More then 10 times the normal level?  That seems crazy.  I did the 1 thing any logical person would do.  I googled it.  Which let me tell you, never is a good idea.

The next day I went about my business.  Daily grind, but with a now larger, bigger monkey on my back.  By ignoring the issues, am I letting my baby get worse?  How damaged is her liver?  Why doesn't any of it make sense.  She's fine, right?  I am just a little neurotic.

Then we got her hospital records in the mail.

Sigh.  So, apparently my baby has a liver comparable to Lindsay Lohan's.   It is a big deal.  Something made her sick.  Really, really sick.  And I really, really wish I knew what it was.  Part of me wants it to be the nuts.  But that scares the crap out of me.  If eating 2 or 3 cashews gave her liver such a shock, will the next time be fatal?  Everyone keeps telling me allergic reactions get more severe each time.  Do I need to build her a little nut free bubble to roll through life in?  I will if I need to.  But I don't really want to.  Bedazzling and hot gluing feather boas to something that round and big is going to be a serious bitch.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WWYMD? Or, what would your mama do?

As a parent, do you follow through on your threats? I am the Queen of Empty Threats. "Move your butt or you will get a spanking!" I think I have swatted a butt maybe 3 or 4 times ever in my years of mommyhood. And either got hit back, immediately felt awful, or both. "Eat the dinner I made you, or you will sit here until you do eat it." Um yeah, that never works. I have other shit to do besides sit at a table and watch someone sob. "Stop talking/crying/hitting your sister or we are just going to go back home". I can almost hear them saying "and then what mom? Eat the remaining two packages of Maruchan Noodles and jar of strawberry jam we happen to have in the house? How are you planning on changing diapers with no wipes? Like you did this morning, with a paper towel?" Crap. That's the problem with kids and real life, and jobs, and hobbies, and needing to get out of the house before someone ends up abandoned at the local fire station. You are screwed. And those little heathens really feel no obligation to cooperate when instead they could be sitting back and enjoying the latest episode of Bubble Guppies. Or drawing on the wall(or a sibling) with a Sharpie.

Anywooo..... this leads me to my most recent conundrum. Mama recently scored last minute tickets to see this little cutie pie in concert:

My Annabelle happens to be a HUGE fan, and I don't mind her music one bit. Well, unless it has been hours, and hours, and hours of it. Sang by a 6 yr old. Still, pretty exciting. And not cheap, especially for this mama, who is on a pretty strict budget and currently swinging 2 jobs in order to pay for some other agenda items. I got a great deal, $150 for both, but certainly a luxury for us. I thought #1 would just about die when I gave them to her, but while she was happy and smiling, you could probably describe her reaction as "lukewarm" at best. Crapper. In fact, my ever loving, supportive husband was standing behind her giving me his best thumbs down and chuckling whole heartedly to himself. Whatever. Fun hater.

So not exactly Beatlemania, but still excitement, happiness. Going to the Rose Garden on a school night, probably Red Robin on the way, and no little sisters to cramp our style. Easily coolest mom on the block, right?

Until last night.

I worked late, got home about 8ish, Greg had been a wonderful hubby, girls had been fed, kitchen was in decent condition and he had dinner waiting. We ate, played with the girls a while, then Mia called it a night, and Daddy put the bigs to bed. I was hanging out, catching up on emails and fb while Greg was out bringing in the garbage cans and yard debris bins from trash day. I looked up as the garage door opened, half smiling, expecting to see my darling husband walk back in and tell me how heavy it was to haul the yard debris barrel down to the backyard, as he always does. Except it wasn't him. It was my two daughters, ages 6 and 3, walking in from outside. In their pajamas. Confusion and concern at the same time. Greg followed shortly, and I quickly met his eyes with my best "WTF?" look. "Yeah, these "angels" were outside and met me when I turned the corner with the garbage can." Huh? I looked at Annabelle. "We were scared mom, so we went outside" she says to me like it makes perfect sense. "Through the downstairs slider?" I ask. "Yeah" she says with annoyance, since I am asking such a stupid question. "Since when do you just get to leave the house when you feel like it? And with your little sister?" Clearly things aren't good, because for once in her life Tessa knows now is not the time to be talking. "I know how to open the gate!" AB responds, informing me that apparently that is all you need to know how to do in order to come and go @ Casa de Mongrain. "Go to bed, now," I growl. "And stay there." "You are in really, really big trouble, and in danger of losing some big privileges." I was so stunned I didn't even know what to threaten.

The girls scampered back downstairs, Greg & I sat on the couch and looked at each other. "I guess tomorrow I will be looking at getting a padlock for the gate," he says. "So they were actually outside, just walking around?" I asked, still absorbing the mutiny. "Yep, they were pretty surprised to see me come around the corner," he responds.

We are interrupted by someone struggling to open the baby gate at the top of the stairs. Someone with dark brown hair, approx 60 lbs, and who may not live to start her 1st day of 1st grade at this point. "You forgot my anti-scare medicine" she mumbles when she finally makes it to face me. "Bella, I don't care if we forgot your anti scare medicine, GO TO BED!" She looks back at me, pathetic and indignant at the same time. "Mom, you forgot my anti-scare medicine" she replies, and I realize that she doesn't know/care/understand that I just worked for 12 hours, had a pretty stressful day, have a headache from the quintuple iced venti non fat marble mocha macchiato I had earlier, and that by choosing not to go to bed, she is most certainly sealing her fate.

“Annabelle, if you are not in your bed in 2 minutes, you will NOT be going to the Taylor Swift concert.” Crap. Tears, sobs, snot.

“Mom, I really, really want to go to the concert, I just need my anti-scare medicine.”

“I’ll give her the medicine,” the voice of reason/Daddy chimes in. “Because I don’t want her to have any reason not to go to bed.” Full medicated with anti-scare medicine/liquid Vitamin D, back to bed she goes.

Followed by 4 more return trips back upstairs, sobs of “I really want to go to the concert, but I just can’t stop thinking about it.” And a variety of other excuses. And Mommy and Daddy explaining several times that she might be able to go, if she just follows directions and does what she is supposed to. Which she doesn’t, until she does. Finally.

So now what? Do I parent the way I probably should, teach her a lesson about following our instructions, so that the next time I give her instructions and have to threaten with a consequence, it actually means something? But then that means no concert, and that Mommy suffers too. And trying to sell the tickets, or lose the $$, neither of which I am thrilled about. Or do I justify it by telling myself that she usually does what she is told, and a special occasion like this is totally a good enough reason to not follow through? On 2nd thought, it is probably my fault anyway, right? I should have never opened my big mouth and threatened with something I wouldn’t want to sacrifice. What kind of fighter pulls out the big guns and doesn’t have the nerve to pull the trigger? Mommy guilt, no matter what. Either I am a lazy parent and a push over or I follow through and we all pay. Sigh. Totally not a decision that should be decided without a glass of wine, in the bath. Neither of which are likely to happen soon. So I guess I will ponder it while going to the bathroom, in between telling Mia “no, you cannot sit on my “lapee” while I am going potty” and yelling at #1 & #2 to stop fighting.

What would your mama do?

Monday, August 22, 2011

~Weekly Words of Wisdom~

By: Tessa Madeline Rae Mongrain

Upon being found by her daddy Saturday morning, face covered in chocolate,
"I can't ask you yes or no if you are not here."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mama vs. The Bitch

~The East County Jets~

Last Friday night Annabelle began her very first season as a Pop Warner Cheerleader. So very exciting. She is practically jumping out of her skin. We started with the orientation meeting on Friday eve, located in the very "vintage" Angelo's Pizza in Camas. Yes, cheer meeting in a pizza parlor. Does it get any better? At the meeting the very direct league director went over all of the rules, from no earrings, no nail polish, what kind of shoes they needed and where to buy them, to how many laps the girls would be running if they were late to practice. She also mentioned their 1st fund raiser, a cheer camp the very next day, from 9am - 2pm @ the local middle school. Cost was $50 and the girls were going to be working hard, learning a dance routine and 3 important cheers. Belle was practically drooling. "I can go right mom?" I told her I needed to check with her dad, but probably. Apparently these Pop Warner people take this stuff quite seriously, because the director lady and her assistant director lady informed us that the district competition was on the Friday following Thanksgiving, and that check in was on Thanksgiving itself. I nearly choked on my full calorie Pepsi (diet isn't offered at Angelo's). What??? On Thanksgiving? My heart started racing. Who does this? Don't these people have family values? Don't they realize what this means? What kind of example would I be setting for Annabelle if I let her think that some sporting event is going to bump Black Friday shopping? One of the other mom's must've felt the same way because she quickly asked if it were for all the girls. "Not the Tiny Mites & Mighty Mites, just the older girls," the director responded. "But be prepared for it if you want your daughter to continue to cheer as she ages into the older teams" piped up her assistant. Whew! Crisis adverted.

The next morning Annabelle has no trouble getting herself out of bed on time. Sturdy shoes, check. Water bottle, check. Sack lunch, check. Sunscreen, crap. No sunscreen. Oh well, she has some sort of Hispanic heritage, and they rarely get skin cancer, right? Bad mom. She reminds me that we need to buy her the cheer shoes the coaches requested from Walmart. "We will B, I promise" I told her. We were in the car and thankfully on time for once. I mentally applaud myself for taking the extra time after last night's meeting to find and locate the middle school the camp and practices are held at so that we wouldn't be late. We pull into the middle school and make the trek up the hill to the field everyone is gathering at. She turns in the registration form they gave us last night at the pizza parlor and seems to be fine. "Just go mom," she says. "Really?" I respond "there doesn't seem to be very many girls here yet, and I don't even know who your coach is." "It's fine, I will figure it out, I'm brave" she says. Ok, I think. I give her a hug and a kiss and tell her to have fun and start the long walk back to the car with my heart in my throat. She looks so tiny standing there all alone. All the crazy thoughts start to run thru my head of abducted children and how on earth I would handle that, I silent them and instead begin to worry about whether or not she will make friends or have to eat her lunch by herself and etc. I make it to the car, where my thoughts are drowned out by the audio from Mulan II that I failed to turn off even though there were no kids in the car.

Greg, myself and the crew make it back @ 2pm to see the girls perform the dance routine. It was adorable. She survived, LOVED it and is completely hooked. She can't wait for practice on Monday.

Sunday eve I get an email from the coach introducing herself, and reminding us that practice is on Monday @ 5:30. Crap! They said 6:00 at the pizza parlor. I promise myself to leave work right @ 4pm to make it back to Washougal, grab the girl and make it to practice on time. I am super relieved to get another email the next morning stating that practice is indeed at 6pm. After a quick stop for Starbucks, AB & I make it to the field only a couple of minutes late. We trek up the hill to the track where camp was held and where the director said practice would be only to discover that the cheerleaders are no where to be found. Only tiny little footballers, so stinking cute in their tiny little football pads, and cute little football pants. Maybe Greg will let us have one more, so we can have a boy. I wonder how much in vitro is now a days? Our luck he would come out and top out about 5'7", right? "Mom! They are way down there," #1 proclaims. Back to reality. I follow her finger to the field at the opposite end of the school and we march towards the crowd dressed primarily in pink. "Run B, just run over and I will catch up with you. Don't run in front of the football players." I grab my handbag, folding chair, AB's water bottle, and of course my coffee and start the trek after her.

We make it to the right spot, and the coach welcomes her. "Over here Annabelle, come stand in line with your team." Sweet. No room or reason to be shy. I really hope that some of these girls are in her class or at least school when she starts. A gal that looks to be about 16 comes out and starts showing the girls what stretches to do. AB looks adorable, and klutzy. So cute. I can't really hear what they are saying, but the fact that the entire gaggle of them are all lined up and following along with the stretches is amazing. The assistant director comes out and starts calling off names. She must be splitting them up into their appropriate ages groups. "McKenzie, Abigail, Shelby, Annabelle" she yells. She continues with about 5 other names, until all the mentioned girls are standing and awaiting the next direction. "All of you have not turned in your physical from your Dr, so you will not be participating." WTF? Physical? No one said anything about a physical. OK, well maybe they did. But that was back in like April, when we signed up. Nothing about when it was due. One of the mom's of the other mortified girls is speaking up. She says they will just go home, no need to sit here for 2 hours if they can't practice. "No," the assistant director states, "they need to stay and watch. They are learning 4 cheers today that they will need to know for tomorrow." Annabelle looks over at me with watery eyes and mouths "Mom?" Crap. I hoist myself out of my chair to move in closer and be able to hear the details.
Apparently the black listed girls can't be on the field with the other girls, but can sit to the side. "What difference does it make?" I ask the Asst Director. She spins her head quickly to see who dares question her authority. "It's a liability issue." She snaps. "They can't practice." "Well how come no one happened to mention this on Friday at orientation, or at camp?" I respond. "And how come she was able to go to camp? How come you were able to take her $50, and let her practice for FIVE hours?" "That's a fundraiser," she says. I tell myself not to over react and then I am reminded not to embarrass my kid when she starts tugging on my shirt. Ok, fine. Whatever lady. Clearly you don't have a heart, or kids, judging from your size 2 leggings and the ability to keep your nails filled and roots maintained on a timely basis. Obviously you don't work and this is your only chance to assert your authority. You can have this one. Karma is a wonderful thing.

I take a deep breath, prepare myself to concede when she says "Are we clear? Can we move on? The girls who have their act together shouldn't have to suffer because your daughters don't."

BITCH! The word was almost out of my mouth, before I saw the group of 20 5-8 yr olds watching intently. This isn't a big deal I tell myself. It's just cheer leading. For a 6 yr old. My rage subsides into guilt when I hear Annabelle say she doesn't feel good. Which is just code for humiliation. "It's fine," I say to the shrew. "We will have it tomorrow." I instantly start to run through the handful of girlfriends who might bail me out of jail when it comes to light that I forged the signature of a medical professional in order to get it turned in by tomorrow afternoon. Crap.

I squat down to talk to my daughter, while the group of other rejects sit and watch us, their moms standing back a few feet. "Listen baby, don't freak out. We will turn it in tomorrow, and everything will be fine. Honestly, it's a bullshit rule. What difference does it make if you practice over here, or over there, 10 feet away? If something happened to you mommy is here to take you to the hospital or Dr right away, it makes no difference if you have the dumb form or not. She's just being a bitch."

"Moooooooom, don't say that. I like her. She is really pretty." Of course she does. Dang. Mama - 0, The Bitch - 1.

"Of course you do, I like her too," I back pedal.

"What are we going to do?" she moans. "I can't remember 4 cheers."

"Don't worry about it" I say, " We can learn them." Her eyes are huge, panicked at the thought that I might do something else to mortify her, as I stand up.

So we stood there, for 2 hours and practiced, 10 feet away from the "girls who had their acts together". I bent my chubby self into positions that my body hadn't seen in years, and copied the coach, constant glares from the asst director and all. I smugly noted to myself that she clearly didn't have children when she brought out her perfectly organized binder when she said to the girls "keep those arms straight ladies. Don't think I can't see you. I have 5 kids, I see everything." Fudge. Of course she does. She probably stays at home and home schools them, and works graveyard and then makes it home in time to have sex with her husband. Every day. I hate my life, seriously.

We wrap up practice and head home, luckily Greg has answered my furious texts and has figured out that hopefully we can just fax the golden form to Dr to fill out vs trying to schedule a same day appt and make it to work and to practice again the following evening. AB is tired, and quiet. I congratulate myself on making sure she still at least knows the cheers and won't be way behind for tomorrow's practice. If she can practice, please Dear God let me find a way to get the damn form completed. Oh well, even if we can't, we can still go and do the same thing again, right?
I let her stay up later then usually, watching a dvr'd Big Brother with Daddy. At about 10:30, I tell her it's time for bed, she needs rest and energy for tomorrow. "Ok," she says. "You are going to get my physical done, right mom?" "Of course, Belle. It's really no big deal, " I muster. I start mentally running through my list of potential bailer outers again. "Good," she says. "I am so excited to practice with the other girls. And I really want the coach to like me, she is so nice!" Really? "I am glad, sweetie. She seems really nice to me too," I mumble. Crap.

Mama-0, The Bitch-2.

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's Monday morning, the sun is shining, I am going to visit a good friend this weekend, and life should be good, right? It is, and while I remind myself to count my blessings, I am grumpy & irritable.

I want my old life back. My simple, ignorant life where lack of sleep was my biggest problem.

I don't want to deal with waiting for ultrasound results to see if my baby has a tumor.

I don't want to throw up in my mouth after I read the package of molasses cookies we had been giving the baby all weekend and discover it was manufactured with tree nuts.

I don't want to give my happy, giggly little girl extra kisses when she goes down for a nap and then swallow the lump in my throat because the neurotic side of me thinks that she might go to sleep, have her liver fail and never wake up.

I don't want to shudder then tell myself to shut up every time she points to her right side and says "hurts".

I don't want to not discipline her properly because I am worried she is sick.

I don't want to hold her down, listen to her sob and yell "mommy" while someone sticks needles into her anymore.

And days like this, when I am really, really just done with it all, I tell myself, I am not going to do it anymore. They can't make me right? She looks healthy. She acts healthy, why am I listening to the same damn people who told me there was probably something wrong the whole flipping time I was pregnant, when they were wrong that time and are probably wrong again? How can she have liver disease when she seems FINE?

It's not fair. I did everything I was supposed to. I didn't smoke, I didn't drink, I didn't do drugs. I switched to decaf (well mostly. I tried, I swear, I really tried). I went to all the stupid Doctor's appointments, even though I didn't want to. I mean really, who has the time and energy to sit in the hospital 3x a week for 12 weeks? But I did it, and now it doesn't count or matter. Why is there something wrong with my baby?

So I get mad, I tell myself that I am not going to deal with it anymore. No more stress, no more worrying about sickness, Dr visits, and how on earth we are going to pay for all of it. They say ignorance is bliss for a reason right? I picture scooping up my girls and my DH and moving somewhere far, far away. Rural and where they make their own medicines and treatments. Last night while I was taking the puppy out to eat and go potty, I closed my eyes and fantasized about living somewhere in the country. We could have our own garden, the girls could have any animal they wanted. Life would be so much better! I was snapped back to reality when I heard scratching and clawing on the fence, and looked up to see a big raccoon hissing at the puppy. I nearly crapped myself. Ugh, so maybe somewhere not so rural would be a better idea?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mia's Liver vs the Doctors

Today we had Mia's 1st appointment with the Pediatric GI Specialist, and we learned the following things:

1. Contrary to what we were told at the hospital, an allergic reaction can cause liver issues. The GI specialist told us it can even cause liver failure. The Dr @ the hospital had told us that there was no way her high levels could be related. She seemed to think they were too high to be correlated. So good news and bad news. A-hopefully her high levels are incident related and will come back to normal. B-she didn't eat very many nuts. Greg guesses 2 or 3 at most. If we get our wish and her levels are just related to the allergic reaction, we will pretty much have to put ourselves on high alert, 24/7, which is tough, especially with a toddler.

2. Apparently Mia's levels were remarkably high. At our appointment we had another Dr come in and say hello, and she greeted Mimi as "our little medical mystery" and said that her levels were "impressive". Well, I guess that all depends on your perspective huh?

3. Her issue is still a bit of a mystery. While elevated levels can be a number of things, celiac disease, hepatitis, etc. it is unlikely that it is any of those since she doesn't have many other symptoms, and she is appearing healthy on many other levels. Right now, her only symptoms are the elevated liver function test levels, and an on going rash. Dr also seemed to think that we could be continuing to expose her to something that her body is treating as toxic, since she has an on going rash.

She actually tolerated the Dr and let him examine her, which is a huge change. She usually goes a little nuts as soon as we walk in. And while she does know what is going on to a certain extent, she did pretty well. As soon as they call her in, she starts asking "hurt? hurt?" which is heart breaking, but luckily she didn't freak today. I have started asking whoever we are going to see to not wear their lab/white coats into the exam room, and it seems to be working so far. She even let them weigh and measure her. At 22 months, she is 36 inches tall and weighs 37 lbs.

During the physical exam, the Dr thought that he could feel her liver, but said that could be normal, or it could still be inflammed.

Our next step is an ultrasound this Friday am. No food or drink for Mimi for the 4 hours prior to the ultrasound will be absolutely delightful, but what are you going to do?

After the ultrasound, then we will have more blood work done in about 6 weeks, they are going to review her enzyme levels again, and also test for a variety of other possibilities, and then a follow up with the GI Specialist.

As long as we make it thru the ultrasound and they don't discover a tumor or any major liver damage, we are in good shape, so for now we are holding our breath and crossing our fingers for that. Hopefully since our appointment is in the morning, the Dr will be able to review the results that afternoon and not make us suffer thru the weekend.

Thanks again to everyone for all of your support. We will be so relieved once this is over. Every time she says she has a stomach ache I get the chills and try not to freak out. It will be nice to get back to normal life and just worry about all the normal things!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Update on the Mimi Monster and her pesky liver!

Sorry baby, no more nuts for you!

As many of you know, while in the hospital for her allergic reaction, Mia's liver enzymes (ALT & AST) came back extremely elevated. Very unusual for a young child. We had to do a lot of follow up with her Dr, and a lot of follow up testing. She went to the hospital on April 12, so we have been dealing with it for about 90 days. Long story short, no matter what is causing it, when your levels are as high as hers are, it causes liver damage, and she was given a diagnosis of "chronic liver disease". Dr can't figure out what is causing it, and referred us to pediatric GI specialist.

Apparently Portland is lacking pediatric specialists. Last year when she needed to see the neurologist, she saw the ONLY one in Portland. When we got our referral to the GI specialist we learned that there are only 2 offices in the area, and they originally couldn't see her until September. Our Dr called and requested they see her sooner, and our appointment is now moved up till July 25.

Even with an appointment that close, the Dr has requested she have continued blood tests. Those suck. She freaks out (of course) and it is a horrible experience. When I took her on Tuesday afternoon, she was so combative, they tried & tried and poked & poked, but couldn't get a vein, so we were sent home with instructions to come back the next day.

Originally our Dr suspected that her levels may have been high from her allergic reaction (essentially the nuts were poisonous). But when her levels failed to come down, we kind of ruled that out. Enzyme levels can be high for a variety of reasons, anything from a hereditary disease to cancer to overdose on drugs, even a vitamin D deficiency. The levels just show that your liver is being damaged from something.

Also - before we left the hospital, the Dr suggested a blood test to determine if her allergy was to nuts, shellfish, or both. We found out a couple of weeks later that it was cashews. Thankfully, not peanuts. I followed up with the allergist, and we had the "prick" test, which revealed cashews as we already knew, along with a new allergy to hazelnuts. The allergist informed us that it is very common to have one tree nut allergy, and develop an allergy to the remaining tree nuts shortly thereafter. Apparently this is commonly discovered/diagnosed between the age of 1 and 2 when toddlers start having a variety of foods. She recommended avoiding all tree nuts, along with peanuts (as most foods with peanuts have tree nuts mixed in, and it's not uncommon to develop a peanut allergy as well) and to maintain a nut free household. Greg had given her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and she had no reaction, but the allergist recommended not doing that again.

So, for the past few weeks, we have been avoiding all nuts, and giving her a liquid supplement of Vitamin D (800 mg) each night in her bottle.

And this morning I got good news! Not great, but good. Her ALT & AST levels are way down. The last time they tested, her ALT was 723 and anything above 52 is "out of range". Yesterday it was down to 90! Last time her AST was 250 and yesterday it was 62. So we are still out of range, but way, way better. Dr said to keep doing what we are doing! We still need to follow up with the GI specialist to determine how much liver damage she has sustained (hopefully very little) and make sure her levels keep coming down.

I am so, so relieved. Thank you everyone for your prayers and support this far. Hopefully we have it figured out and can go from here. Part of me is relieved and thankful. Part of me feels guilty that we could have essentially been poisoning our baby by feeding her nuts! oy. Or not meeting her nutritional needs by giving her a lack of vitamin D. But whatever it is I am just hopeful that we can continue to fix it and move on.

This kid is going to drive me to a breakdown, one way or another, I swear!

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's been a while.

I have been a bad blogger. I haven't blogged in a while, and I really have no good reason, other then I am guilty of neglecting things that I enjoy doing. A ton has happened since I last wrote, but there just simply isn't time to review all of that.

I read thru some of my past posts before posting again, and thought it was kind of ironic that my current issue(s) and my last post are about sleep. Or lack of it. Our little princess was sleeping wonderfully until we moved. Once we moved, she started waking up in the middle of the night. After her hospital stay, she has turned into this guy:

and has been making life miserable for all of us. We follow the same routine, put her to bed, and after she finishes her bottle (yes she is 20 mo and still gets a bottle, yes I realize that is way too old, yes I will kick you in the shins if you try to take it away from her) she is howling that she is in pain. "Mommy, owiieeeeee. Owwwwiiiieeeee, mommy" she sobs from her bedroom while I sit on my bed staring at the alarm clock, counting down the seconds until I can fairly say I have tried to let her "cry it out". Epic fail for me. When I get to her crib, she of course is standing up, still proclaiming full body pain and needs to be instantly cuddled. As soon as I pick her up and she wraps her chubby, sweaty little fists around my neck and buries her tear covered face into me, I feel instantly guilty and start to mentally list all the reasons the child raising experts have no idea what they are talking about. I carry my 33+ lb baby over to the rocker and attempt to salvage any sort of chance at bedtime as she rubs my arms and covers me in kisses, letting me know how grateful she is that I haven't abandoned her. I inspect her from head to toe, to reassure myself that she wasn't dying, just simply too smart for her own good. Every once in a great while, I may get lucky and be able to rock her back to sleep. Usually though, after about 2 whole minutes, she sits straight up, proclaims "kitty!" and shoots out of my lap to hunt down the unsuspecting feline. Damn that cat!

After a couple of hours entertaining herself buckling and unbuckling the safety restraint on her high chairs, asking for "help peeese" playing with her shape blocks, and generally being as noisy as possible, she is ready for bed and behaves like nothing ever happened. Usually about 10:30. Another bottle at this point is necessary, and she of course wants it to be warmed up. She is typically good for about 4 hours, then is howling because of course she is starving and needs yet another bottle. If you are a skilled ninja like Greg, you may get lucky enough to deliver said bottle without completely waking her up. If you are me, you end up bringing preschool sized infant back to bed with you, where the only place she is comfortable sleeping is with her head on your chest and her feet in Daddy's face. Sometimes Greg and I can make it thru our morning routine and out the door before she wakes again, but usually around 6, she is up and crankily ready to go. I swear she can smell me, and she smells fear.

I saw a movie trailer last Friday in which the main character stated that having young children is like living with drug addicts. I think that is spot on. They stay up all night, they trash your house, have very fuzzy boundaries on what is appropriate, and they take all your money!

Besides my little party animal, my main hurdle with sleep lately is that I just can't. Don't get me wrong, I am exhausted. I get to the point at night where I have to go to bed, because if I don't, I will literally fall over. Once I am in bed, I have no problem falling asleep. It's just that I wake up shortly thereafter, and for the life of me, cannot go back to sleep. I know it's stress, but logically I feel like I am dealing with all of it well enough. I saw the Dr on Friday and got a prescription for anxiety, but she pointed out the obvious. First of all there is this guy:

My dad. He died unexpectedly last November. It shouldn't be a big deal for me. He didn't like me. At all. But it was still a shock when he died so suddenly, at 57. Brought mortality to a whole new level for me. Turning off life support for anyone is traumatic, but I think I am struggling even more since I am the one who had to do it, and knowing he probably wouldn't have been ok with me being that person. Dr pointed out that the looming Father's Day holiday probably isn't helping. I think it's the finality of all of it. Never being able to ask the questions I need to ask, and of course never getting the answers you want. I think that most children who have abusive parents never stop trying to convince that parent that they are worthy of their love, and of course approval. His death confirmed once and for all that no matter how hard I try, I will never get it.

Last week I got a call from my sister that Petunia had passed. So, so sad. She was only 5, and even for an english bulldog that is really young. April had no idea what had happened, thought maybe she had eaten some oleander or another plant. But no signs of distress or anything, they just came home and she wouldn't come when they called her. Dang I loved that dog. And will miss her. She was such a sweet girl. Ugh.

We have also been dealing with the little monster's health.....

Seems that her liver is not functioning like it should (yes, I know that this would be the appropriate place to question how much wine I consumed while pregnant, but I didn't, I swear!). Drs discovered the issue while we were at the hospital for her allergic reaction, her enzyme tests came back thru the roof. We had to spend the night in the hopes that they would come down the next morning, but they didn't. We followed up with our primary care physician, and while they came down a bit at one point, they are still too high and we now are waiting to be seen by a pediatric GI Specialist so that they can do an ultra sound on her liver to see if they can see if it is visibly damaged, or if there is a tumor or anything else. As much as I am dreading that, I am just hopeful that we don't have to do more blood tests, because let me tell you, she LOVES those.

Besides all of these issues we also have had to deal with the topic of potentially growing our family again. Those of you in the know "know". We agonized over it, and for a variety of reasons, we are just not in the place we need to be to travel that road right now. We haven't completely closed the door on more children down the road, but for now, our cup is overflowing!

So while on paper I know why I can't sleep, it sucks. I am tired. The backs of my eyelids feel like sand paper. And I want to sleep. It's how I deal with things. When the 09/11 attacks happened, I went home and went to bed. When I was younger, I would work through stress by cleaning things. Tile grout would get scrubbed, all of the cushions on the couch would be vacuumed under, etc. Now I just go to bed. Hopefully I will get some rest soon, if nothing else with the help of Xanax. Until then, I will continue to count my blessings. At least I am not one of those weirdos who gets too stressed to eat, right?