Who Was That (Oxygen) Masked Kid?

Who Was That (Oxygen) Masked Kid?

Updated for 2016! Oooh, ahhhhh.

Today is World Prematurity Day! It is a day to bring awareness to how many kids around the world are born early, as well as a day to celebrate the many accomplishments of preemies and micropreemies errywhere.

In the spirit of learning more about preemies, I thought I would use this post to tell you a little more about my preemie. Most people know he was born early, and lately I have gotten questions from a few people about Joshua and his micropreemie-ness. Sure, it’s a word. Come on. Be cool. I don’t mind questions, especially from people who want to learn more about how to help preemies! So below are the questions I most often get about Josh and the answers as best as I understand them.

*I am not a medical professional. I know, I know; you’re super shocked to learn that info. But, alas, it is true. So there is a good chance I might not get every medical term correct. If you see something that is incorrect, please feel free to call me out in public in the humiliating manner of your choice.* Read more

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The Time I Went Emo. Not To Be Confused With Elmo.

The Time I Went Emo. Not To Be Confused With Elmo.

I have always found people fascinating. I love to watch how people interact with each other, how people handle different types of stress or excitement, how people relate to one another. It’s a never-ending source of wonderment for me to observe all the millions of tiny ways people differ. These observations have (I hope) allowed to me to read people, and understand their point of view. It has made me less angry when asked a rude a question because I can easily see it from the asker’s side. It has made moments of someone’s joy even more exciting when I know so many of the underlying emotions they have experienced up to this point. It has, in effect, allowed me to get into people’s heads, kind of a like a psychic stalker, but a really friendly one.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not like a superhero. I can’t read minds, and I don’t always interpret people’s emotions and reactions correctly. But I make a concerted effort to understand people and their background and why and how they became who they are.

The more I developed this sense of empathy, for lack of a better word, the more I used it. And I have used it so often that it has, at times, become somewhat of an obligation. If someone tells me something that should make me angry, I feel like, because I can more easily understand their point of view, I have less of a right to be angry, because I know why they said what they said. I know that they are having a bad day, or were just honestly curious, or misinterpreted the situation. So I let my anger (or whatever emotion is appropriate at the time) dissipate, until it fades away into nothing. And then I move on.

At least, that is what I thought I have been doing. The thing about having a kid like Joshua, who is not totally typical, is that you get a lot of questions. A. Lot. Nosy questions, nice questions, rude questions, friendly questions; all of it. And I used to do pretty well with answering them. After a while the sheer volume became overwhelming (or what felt like volume – I freely admit that it could be that my tolerance for questions has lowered considerably in the last 2.5 years), but I still did my best not to react emotionally to those questions. Thanks to my superpower, I could see that everyone meant well. I could listen to their question and hear the real question they wanted to ask, and I could sympathize with them over being nervous to ask me or ashamed of their lack of knowledge.

The truth is, I was reacting emotionally. I didn’t realize it, because I kept it hidden. I refused to acknowledge it. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, y’all. I told myself that there was no need to still be so emotional about Josh when I should only be grateful.

But emotions, like so many other things, have a funny way of creeping up on you, and soon enough I could see their impact even while trying to deny they existed. I could see myself changing, transforming into someone I didn’t recognize. Someone who was lost. Someone who used to have absolute confidence in God’s plan but now wasn’t sure of anything. Someone who was growing increasingly bitter over having a child who needed special attention. Someone who used to be able to find genuine joy in the accomplishments of others but who now goes out of her way to avoid others just so she won’t have to pretend to be happy for them. Whether I let them show or not, my reactions and feelings were changing me. It was like a slow drip, a slow break, a slow crack that, at first, only showed to the closest observers. But as the crack grew longer and wider, it became more and more obvious.

What’s funny is that it isn’t just the rude comments or nosy questions that bother me. It’s every comment, every statement about Joshua and his delays, or even seeing a child Josh’s age who was so far ahead, that slowly, slowly gave way to those cracks.

Josh is doing really well for all he has overcome!

Crack. 

Joshua isn’t so far behind now!

Crack.

How old is he? But he’s so small!

Crack.

We can put Josh with his real age group, but he might do better with the babies.

Crack. 

He probably needs a feeding tube.

Crack. 

He needs another specialist.

Crack. 

He likes to watch the other kids run around on the playground!

Crack. 

Did it take him this long to get inside the building?

Crack. 

And I do know that none of these comments, or other comments made, are meant as anything but encouraging or informative. They aren’t attacks on me or Josh; they aren’t commentary on my parenting abilities; they aren’t meant to provide anything but helpful advice.

I’ll be honest with you and say that I am just tired of questions and comments. I am tired of people telling me that Josh accomplished something and how awesome it is because of how far behind he was. I am tired of people asking me his age and then looking confused as they try to figure out why a 2.5 year old looks like he is just starting to walk. I am tired of medical advice from random people at the grocery store. I am tired of being congratulated on how well he is doing every time he walks down a hallway. Because while I am so very proud of him and all that he does, I don’t see any other kids being congratulated for walking down a hallway.

I know Josh is not the only atypical kid in the world, and it’s not that I don’t think other kids are struggling.

It’s more that some days, I just want to be a parent of a two-year-old. Not a parent of a miracle baby, or a toddler who just started to walk, or a parent who already knows what an IFSP and an IEP are. I just want to pretend that Josh is typical and that everyone is like him, instead of him being the odd man out. I want to commiserate with other parents on how my silly boy is running through the aisles of Target while I try to catch him. I want to stop planning my weeks around specialists that are only available in the middle of weekdays and are located 7048230 miles away.

And, because there is always one person who says this to me – I know how far Josh has come. I am not trying to take away from his hard work. He is doing so well. He talks a ton; he is responding well to therapy; he is charming and super cute, if I do say so myself. I know all of these things because I have been there from the word go. 

But to have a kid like Joshua can be overwhelming at times. It can be so isolating. I don’t know any other parents with a kid like Josh. I know a lot of parents of preemies, but Joshua seems to be an atypical preemie, too. For whatever reason, he is taking his own little path, and that’s cool. I get it. He is who he is. But I’m not who I was. And I don’t know how to be this new person, who is bitter, and unsure of herself, and lives in fear that at the next routine check-up they will find something terrible. It doesn’t suit me. And I don’t like it.

So I am trying to get back to the person I used to be: confident, and cheerful, and content. I can be those things. I don’t think things will ever be exactly the same as they were before Josh, but what mother isn’t changed by her child? I want to focus on the blessings in my life, and use my powers for good to remember that Joshua is so loved by so many people, (and for this I am truly grateful) and that questions or comments only hold power over me if I let them. I don’t know exactly how to go about this, but I think acknowledging it is a good start.

This is another one of those posts where I don’t have an ending. I do have a unicorn:

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With/Out Kids

With/Out Kids

What’s the difference between a life without kids and life with kids? See for yourself…

Going to Target

Without kids:

Decide to go to Target. Go to Target.

With kids:

Realize you need something from Target. Immediately seek out the perfect half hour in which you can get to and from Target without messing up nap time, snack time, or any other Special Time that your kids require. Miss that half hour by fifteen minutes. Cry into your hands. Schlep kids and kid accessories into minivan. Drive to Target while listening to the soundtrack from Frozen for 3472014871302 time. Circle parking lot until you find the perfect spot – you don’t care how close you are to the front of the store, as long as you are near a cart return. Park and load children into cart while praying your toddler does not suddenly develop the desire to run into traffic and simultaneously cursing Target for not having special kid carts. Push cart full of children into Target while threatening your oldest that if he stands up in the cart again you will not get him a treat. It’s an empty threat. You know it. He knows it. He doesn’t play by society’s rules. Pick up the keys your baby dropped. Pick up the wallet your baby dropped. Pick up the toy your baby dropped. Pick up the keys your baby dropped. Stop giving your baby things. Paste a smile on your face and ignore strangers who are now glancing at your screaming baby who is reaching desperately for your keys. Explain that it’s “past someone’s nap time” as you push the cart by. Do not explain that the person who actually needs the nap is you. Find all the items you need in record time. Keep smiling as the cashier offers you to sign up for the special credit card six times in a row. Feel your eye start to twitch as the toddler begins to whine, “I’m huuuuuuuuuuuuungeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” for seven and a half minutes without ceasing. Pay for your items. Wonder how you spent so much at Target. Load kids and Target acquisitions into the minivan. Drive home while listening to the Frozen soundtrack again, now at top volume so you can drown out the chorus of “I’m huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuungeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, I wanna eaaaaaaaaaaaaat” playing in the back seat. Arrive home. Unload children. Leave Target items in car and promise yourself you will come back for them after you get the kids in. Understand that what you really mean is you will ask your husband to unload them when he gets home from work. Put the baby to bed. Feed the toddler. Drink a Diet Coke. Realize you forgot to get something while at Target. Cry again.

Brushing your teeth

Without kids:

Put toothpaste on toothbrush. Brush teeth. Admire your pearly whites in the mirror.

With kids:

Put toothpaste on toothbrush. Watch it slide onto the floor as your toddler tries to yank the toothbrush from your hands. Convince toddler to go watch cartoons. Reapply toothpaste. Remember to shut the bathroom door this time. Immediately begin watching myriad objects appear under the door, courtesy of the toddler: Legos, markers, puzzle pieces, Army men, and socks all make their way across the floor as you try to ignore them and start brushing. Yell “IN JUST A MINUTE” over and over as your toddler keeps asking you when you will come back over and over. Rinse and spit and notice you now have a toothpaste stain in the middle of your shirt. Leave bathroom to change shirts. Step on Legos. Say bad words in your head.

Eating dinner at home

Without kids:

Make dinner. Congratulate yourself on being awesome. Eat dinner. Contemplate how delicious dinner was while you decide on dessert.

With kids:

Start the oven. Threaten your toddler with no Mickey Mouse ever again if he goes anywhere near it. Comfort toddler after he gets sad about the thought of living in a Mickey-less world. Realize oven is now heated. Throw casserole ingredients into a pan while trying to ignore the fact that the baby and the toddler are growling at each other. Put casserole into oven just in time to stop the baby from stabbing the toddler in the eye with a straw. Collect all straws. Put baby and toddler in high chairs and give them a pre-dinner snack. Watch them throw the snack on the floor as they ask for “real” dinner. Tell them to wait. Turn on Mickey Mouse. Realize you have no principles anymore. Start cleaning up the living room while you wait for casserole to cook. Allow yourself to get distracted and find yourself knee-deep in baby clothes that you are sorting to see if they still fit when you suddenly realize the sound you’ve been hearing for the last ten minutes is not the TV, but the oven, signaling that your casserole is ready. Or it was ten minutes ago. Throw all clothes onto floor, undoing the work you’ve done for the last thirty minutes, and rescue casserole from oven. Comfort crying children and tell them the noise was just for fun and the smoke is nothing to worry about. Cut away burned edges of casserole. Give children casserole. Watch them throw the casserole on the floor and cry for crackers. Vow to never cook again.

And those are just the first three I could think of.

The 10 Commandments of Parenting

The 10 Commandments of Parenting

I. Thou shalt not dress thyself for any occasion more than three minutes beforeth the departure time. For I say unto you, woe, WOE to the mother who thinketh she shall escape the reacheth of vomit.

II. Thou shalt abandon thy principles and alloweth thine offspring to watcheth the television, eateth the ice cream, and weareth the mismatched clothing.

Blessed is the mother whose offspring does not cryeth for absolutely no logical reasoneth. 

III. Thou shalt vow to be reassuringeth to other parents in regard to their offspring, and sayeth things like, “Surely I say unto you, Billy shalt be fineth in spiteth of his scrape;” while simultaneouslyeth vow to freaketh out over thine own offspring, and beggeth your husband to taketh them to the emergency room upon accidentally cutting a finger whilst clippingeth their nails.

IV. Thou shalt not puncheth strangers in the supermarket for givingeth dumb suggestions to thee in regards to thine offspring. Nay, verily – thou shalt worketh on thy fake smile in thy free time, and pasteth it upon thy face, and continue thy shopping in a hasty manner.

V. Thou shalt remember the Disney Channel schedule and keep it holy.

VI. Thou shalt not eateth thy Thin Mints in fronteth of thine offspring, for surely thine cookies shall perish.

VII. Thou shalt sweareth to thine offspring that if they getteth a tattoo whilst living in thine house, thou shalt also go and get an identicaleth tattoo and taketh photographs and posteth them on the Facebook for all to see.

VIII. Thou shalt not watch television programs that are not appropriateth for thine offspring, except for season finaleths, and shows you have been waitingeth to see forever, and shows that amuseth you with their humorous ways, and just forgetteth this one and watcheth what you want.

VIIII. Thou shalt make exaggerated threats to thine offspring in thy church, mall, or any other localeth place, and sweareth to them that they shall be held in captivity for twentieth years if they do not getteth in the freaking car. Thy husband shall stand beside you, pleading for you to just forgetteth about it before the cops show up, and assureth you that the offspring shalt not groweth up to be serial killers because you did not disciplneth them.

X. Thou shalt honor thine own mother and father, for they are the babysitters and savers of thy sanity.

Blessed are the grandparents, for they keepeth us from too much prison time. 

How to take a toddler to the pool in just a few, easy steps

How to take a toddler to the pool in just a few, easy steps

1. Tell toddler you will be going to the pool if they finish their lunch.

2. Immediately regret this decision as the toddler now spends the rest of lunch time saying, “Pool? We go pool? Pool now?”

3. Repeat the phrase “After you eat” so many times you’re thinking it would look nice as a tattoo.

4. Threaten toddler with no pool ever again if they do not finish EVERY BITE OF THAT TOAST.

5. Remove toddler from high chair. Throw the toast they didn’t eat in the garbage can. Realize you no longer have principles or resolve.

6. Look for sunscreen. It should be on the shelf. It’s not on the shelf. Maybe it’s in the bathroom. It’s not in the bathroom. Maybe under the couch. Not under the couch.

7. Oh, look – the toddler has it.

8. Try to rub suncreen all over toddler. Mutter things under your breath like, “We are NOT doing this again until Daddy is home to help.”

9. Realize toddler is now covered in fuzz, hair, and crumbs from rolling around on the carpet after being slathered in sunscreen. Decide not to care. The pool is basically like a bath, right?

10. Pick out a swimsuit for the toddler.

11. Pick a different one.

12. Pick a different one.

13. Pick a different one.

14. Put chosen suit on toddler.

15. Repeat step 14 for the next 12 minutes. Wonder how this suit got so impossibly hard to put on since the last time the toddler wore it.

16. Realize the suit is from last year. Pick a different one.

17. After finally dressing the toddler in his swimsuit, gather all accessories: pool float, pool key, extra hat, extra sunglasses, extra sunscreen, extra vodka, extra goldfish, extra towels.

18. Remember you have another child.

19. Put aside guilt in order to slather and dress the other child.

20. Yell for toddler after you realize he has escaped to parts unknown.

21. Swear to toddler you will put him in his crib for the rest of his life if he does not get out of the kitchen RIGHT NOW.

22. Convince toddler to go out to the car. Think about how much you want a nap as you wrangle the toddler, baby, and 473078402 additional items into your car.

23. Tell yourself you are going to stay at the pool for at least an hour. It’s a beautiful day and you are determined to tire these children out for bedtime.

24. Drive to pool. Contemplate driving into the pool.

25. Unload items.

26. Unbuckle toddler and tell him to stay right there as you unbuckle the baby.

27. Watch toddler ignore you as he heads for the pool gate.

28. Grab the baby and crap-ton of stuff and race toddler to the gate. Feel good about winning but then feel bad that you feel good about winning a foot race with a toddler.

29. Walk toddler to pool steps.

30. Convince toddler that this pool is not an agent of Satan sent to destroy all mankind, but is in fact the same pool that he has been asking to go to for the last hour.

31. Insert toddler into pool float against his will.

32. Insert baby into pool float, also against the toddler’s will.

33. Get into the pool and push the floats around, making high-pitched noises intended to convince the toddler that this is fun.

34. Spend seven minutes in the pool avoiding the glances of others noticing your crying child and his terrible mother who forced him into the pool.

35. Give up.

36. Remove toddler and baby from the pool.

37. Dry everyone off. Change toddler’s clothes. Change baby’s clothes.

38. Wrangle toddler, baby, and pool accessories that have somehow increased back into the car. Buckle everyone in.

39. Listen to toddler cry. Ask what’s wrong.

40. Bang head into steering wheel repeatedly upon hearing the answer, “I want pool!!!!”

Repeat as needed.

See? It’s easy.

“I can’t believe you forgot about me. Again.”