Friday, June 30, 2006

My A

A had his first full blown "episode" in front of others today since he's been diagnosed with Asperger's. Sure, we've been to Chuck E Cheese once before which obviously is overstimulating for EVERYONE and he wouldn't take his hands down from his ears the whole time we were there. We got strange looks, but at least he was willing to walk around a little. And he froze on a carnival obstacle course because of an unexpected noise and needed to be carried step by step up the rope ladder with me on top of him. But today was different.

My sister and I took the kids up to see my "blond sister" - a good hour+ drive but she's worth it! Apparently something scared A when he first entered the house and he immediately fled upstairs with his hands over his ears. I was getting J out of the car still, so I didn't see any of this. My sister followed him up the stairs to where he was standing, frozen in terror with his hands clenched to his ears, in one of the back bedrooms. She tried getting him to communicate with her but nothing worked, and just as I was noticing that he wasn't downstairs, she called me up. It took me a while, but I was finally able to understand that something on the tv bothered him. After I went to the stairs and called down for the tv to be changed, I was eventually able to convince him to come down with me with the promise of food. Every other time there's been a problem I have witnessed the start of it and was able to figure out what caused it. This time, because I couldn't, it escalated.

At a playdate yesterday, I told some moms that we finally got the Aspergers diagnosis. They all expressed such shock that someone as social and friendly and happy as A would be diagnosed with that. As the playdate progressed, I found myself pointing out the various behaviors that he displayed during the hour and a half that we were there that supported the diagnosis. The chapstick he found and smeared all over his face. The tv in the kitchen he turned on five different times. The toy that terrified him, causing him to be frozen with his hands over his ears until I could figure out which toy it was and remove it from the room. The empty box that had held an interactive tv game that facinated him so much he escaped from me three separate times to go back and stare at it some more as we were trying to leave. And this was all while I was "right on top of him" since I never let him out of my sight for more than a minute. Part of me was thinking that others might be surprised because I always am so on top of him and am able to cut off so many things before they even happen, and the other part of me was somewhat shocked at how many things he does even with me right there.

He is a great kid. Even without making much eye contact, A is one of the most social, friendly kids, almost always smiling (when his routine is still consistent and he's not scared) and singing. And I think his amazing personality and intelligence have allowed him to get this far before a diagnosis was made and with most people believing he is still perfectly fine. And I'm really glad he has all that going for him.

I know so many parents have it so much harder than me. I'm trying to look at the positive side of things. And I think I will feel much better when we meet for his IEP (July 13!) and get some strategies in place and start some therapies for him. But for now, having the official diagnosis and not much else, it's kind of hard to not focus on everything he does that supports Asperger's instead of just focusing on everything else about him.

And tomorrow is another day. What new adventures will we discover?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Celebrating 11 Years of Marriage

If you ran a fancy hotel and had a couple purchase your "Romance Package" for a night, would you put them in an adjoining room with a family with young children?

Our weekend without kids was such a treat! Friday night we had dinner and saw a movie, then hung out at a bookstore for a little, all without worrying about how much we had to pay the babysitter. Saturday we slept in then went out for breakfast, bringing our bagels to Borders where we spent a nice relaxing portion of the day. We went to a party for all our theater friends, many of whom we haven't seen all year. So nice to be able to relax at a party without chasing kids around. I was able to drink lots of fruity drinks, dangle my legs in the hot tub, chat with a whole bunch of different people. DH only got roped into reading one script to consider doing the show, which is not too bad. We both had a great time, and ended up staying WAY later than we thought we would. Next year (since my sister has agreed to do this again and the party is an annual event) we won't reserve a hotel room, since we didn't end up getting there until 12:30. And since the kids in the adjoining room woke us up around 7, it wasn't the best hotel experience in the world. I managed to put a pillow over my head and doze, but it didn't end up being what I anticipated. DH and I did manage to make the best of it, and let's just say without going into too many details that I hope the kids next door didn't hear too much! We spent a few more hours at another bookstore and then went to my sister's to get the kids. We were actually missing them by then!

The boys were thrilled to see us, throwing themselves at us and telling us how much they missed us. J, on the other, was pissed! She literally turned her back on us and stuck her nose in the air. She was NOT happy to see us - she seemed to want to punish us for being away for so long. Eventually she seemed to get over it, but it was a hillarious, unexpected reaction.

All in all, it was a great anniversary weekend. Happy 11th anniversary, DH!

Friday, June 23, 2006

It's almost the weekend!

Tired - stayed up until 2 again unintentionally finishing a book.
Excited - cleaning the house and making preparations for our weekend!!!!
But still very tired. Definitely will need to take a nap again - soon.

And by the way, whose idea of some cosmic joke was it for me to get AF yesterday?!! Sorry if that is TMI, but c'mon!

In any case, we bring the kids to my parents to meet up with DS for Shabbat dinner and then we're "free."

Have to share last night's pre-bedtime discussion. Some I started telling the kids that J used to be tiny and in my belly and now she's a big girl. J actually started crying because she wanted to be tiny and in my belly again. I tried hugging her and explaining why it's better that she's on the outside, but she would have none of that. Finally I suggested that she take a turn pretending to be in my belly. She like that idea, so I lifted up my shirt, she snuggled close, and I rocked with her. The boys came over and we all sang to my "belly" and then she was "born." Then, of course, the boys needed to try that - together. And then J needed another turn. And then the boys wanted to both try it again, separately. And then they were all okay to go to bed. Interesting evening! :)

This morning as I was lounging in bed, I heard DH explaining to B that he shouldn't be playing with my make-up. "But Daddy," B answered, "I want to be beautiful for the sleepover tonight!" How to respond, how to respond? After laughing hysterically at DH's discomfort on coming across his son wearing his mommy's make-up, I finally decided the approach should just be that he is not allowed to play with Mommy's stuff. Period. And if he wants to buy his own sometime, we'll deal with that then. LOL! Kind of hard to tell him that boys don't wear make-up when he saw "Daddy's friends" putting it on at "June June" (DH helps direct the shows at his high school. The first show the boys saw and A was IN was Carousel, which has the song "June is Busting Out All Over" in it. After that, the school was known as "June June" for the boys, and now for J.) each time they have gotten ready for a show.

Alright, gotta get my butt in gear so I can get this house cleaned before my manicure and pedicure this afternoon. Ooo, I feel like a lady of leisure!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about R

1. I am tutoring this summer. So far I have a ninth grader who needs a little help with writing. I'm planning lots of cool writing activities to get him excited and comfortable with it.

2. DH and I are having a romantic weekend to celebrate our eleventh anniversary - my sister is taking the kids for the whole time!

3. We will be going out to dinner and to see X-Men 3 (on Nancy's recommendation).

4. I hosted a Passion Party last night - we all had a blast!

5. Not only did I have fun at the party last night, I had a great time planning for it. Ever look up "sex" on Very interesting. ;}

6. We have worked out this week so that DH had two days to himself and I have today and tomorrow. While I did sleep in very late (good thing since I stayed up until TWO yesterday - or was that today?) this morning, I have been called upon to help many times. Granted, watching five kids is very tough, but he is quite a capable guy!!!

7. Tomorrow I will be spending most of "my day" OUT of the house.

8. I think I forgot to give a final update - we have decided to stay at this house instead of moving. Instead of doing the big addition that I would LOVE (too tough to live through with five young kids), we are doing a mini-renovation: enlarging the division between the living room and the dining room and refinishing the hard wood floors underneath the stained wall-to-wall carpet.

9. Got an estimate from someone local on doing the expansion and he said he could do the project next week!

10. I have lots of other painting projects that I think will make a huge difference here that I want to do this summer.

11. It's hard to type and think with a four year old attached to my elbow asking for a turn on the computer.

12. It's equally hard to concentrate with the sound of a baby crying in the other room (even if I'm not the one in charge).

13. I'm going out for the rest of the afternoon!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Please don't link and run! Leave a comment. :)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Works-For-Me Wednesday

Edited to add: Chaotic Mom, you rock! Thanks for explaining how to get a picture on my blog!!!

This is my first time posting a Works-For-Me Wednesday idea, but I found it on Rocks in my Dryer's blog (love the name, by the way) and loved it! So here goes.

Anyone who knows me has heard by now that my boys get up early. No matter how late they go to bed (and we've tried) they get up around six. When they were much younger, they used to get up around 5:30! At that time I finally found a source that explained that if you put your kids down for the night earlier, they will sleep later. It made no sense, but we tried it, and it worked. When they were a year or so, we were putting them down around 6:30 (so early!) and they would sleep until around 6:30/7. Such an early bedtime became really tough to maintain, so eventually we moved to 7 for their regular bedtime.

Since they were getting up, raring to go, before 6:30, we decided that 6:30 would be a good goal to shoot for. I bought a digital clock with big numbers and told them they had to stay in bed until 6-3-0. That worked for a while, but eventually they were getting up earlier and I had to take them back to bed reminding them to stay in bed until 6-3-0. Sometimes A would come in at 5:45 and would have a fit when I reminded him how long he had to stay in bed.

So I did two things (I know, this was a very long build up to get to what finally works, deal with it!) that have been working (at least for the last two weeks):
1) I have moved the time on their clock back little by little without telling them. Right now it is twenty minutes early. I know, very sneaky, but it helps!

2) The boys now have radio alarm clocks in their room. The rule is they have to stay in bed until the music goes on. And it's working!!! Plus I've been moving the time for them to stay in bed later and later, so as of last night it set for 6:45 (which is really 7:05 - shhhh, don't tell them!).

And that is how I've got my boys to "sleep in" - works for me!

If you are doing Works-For-Me Wednesday as well, please link to your post below. And remember, don't link and run - leave a comment! :)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Pity Party's Over

Time for action.

DH's grandmother was released from the hospital yesterday night. Apparently she did not have a stroke, and even though PT and OT are not happy with what she's able to do, she still thinks she's moving into her own apartment to live on her own. Right now she's back with my in-laws. This is such a hard time for the whole family!

Okay, I have a list of things to do, ten minutes/room, calls to make, a plan of action. That should help. Here goes.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Mini-Pity Party

I'm giving myself five minutes to whine about the stuff I'm feeling down about right now. Here goes:

1) Can't find the stupid timer to set it for five minutes like I wanted to do! Have to try to guesstimate.

2) My head hurts and I'm tired. Keep waking up around 3 and not being able to really get back to sleep too well.

3) Had to get a tetnus shot Saturday because I cut my leg on a metal tag at a BBQ we were hosting and my arm still hurts.

4) DH's grandmother may have had a stroke leaving my sister's house last night. She had a LOT of trouble using her walker to get to the van, even with my FIL and DH on either side of her - her left leg was NOT working right. Now DH and my in-laws have been at the hospital since last night (they all went home to sleep) and are trying to figure out what to do. His grandmother still thinks she's going to be moving into her own apartment on July 1st, but it doesn't seem like such a great idea for her to live on her own. They're looking into other situations, but with no savings, there just aren't that many options.

5) I'm tired.

6) A really has Asperger's. I'm glad we have the diagnosis from the IU, but I still need to persue Dupont and Crosier to get him seen by Developmental pediatricians.

7) I was toying with the idea of laying down for a few minutes since the boys and J are having "quiet time" and DN-A and DN-J are still napping, but someone else might be awake up there - have to check.

8) Had a good morning food wise, but blew it after one update from DH and am kicking myself now. I'm the perfect example of an emotional eater.

9) The house is a mess!

10) My ears hurt...again.

Okay. Party's over. Gotta get back to being productive.
If you pray, please keep DH's grandmother and his parents in your prayers. This has been a really tough time for them and I think it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

So, what's it REALLY like in Holland?

Yesterday we got the results of A's evaluation. And it turns out that I nailed it: A officially has Asperger's Syndrome. We meet in July to create his IEP (Individualized Education Plan).

It's funny. I really wanted him to get this diagnosis. We've known something was wrong from early on. At 18 months we had his hearing tested to see if there was a medical reason that he would ignore us so often. Nope, it was fine, he was just ignoring us. He used to decorate his crib with the contents of his diaper. Gross, I know. When I started researching Asperger's and Sensory Integration Disorder, the idea of "seeking" sensory stimulation really jumped out at me, especially with regards to tactile stimulation. It explains a lot. But, cleaning his crib 5+ times a month for about two years, I just was mad. And frustrated. And confused. I remember another mom at a playgroup at my house a couple years ago commenting on how her son had once done something like that. She went on to say that it wasn't like he was doing that all the time, or smearing in on the walls, because that would be the sign of a truely disturbed child. I laughingly explained to her that A has been doing this for a while, that we keep figuring out ways to keep him out of his diaper (put a onesie on under his pajamas, put him in a one piece zippered pajama, pin the pajamas shut) and he kept figuring out ways to get into it. She apologized profusely like she had made the biggest faux pax in the world. She was so embarrassed. And yet, here we are.

I'm happy about the diagnosis. Really, I am. This is what we needed so A could get the services he needs. And the more services and therapies he gets now might mean the less he'll need as he gets older. But the emotional, non-rational side of me has wanted them to tell me yes, he has some issues, but it's not as bad as you thought, so we'll work on them a little bit and then he'll be just fine.

Like I said, I know that was not rational, but in the back of my mind I guess I was kind of holding out hope that I was exagerating the whole situation. Everyone that I have mentioned my suspected diagnosis to (except his teacher and his doctor) has been shocked. "A?!!" they always say, "Really?!!" And that's because my A is one of the most social, outgoing kids you'll ever meet. And he loves talking to grown-ups. He loves going up to them and introducing himself: "Hi, my name is A." Most adults are so blown away with this they don't really pay attention to the fact that he's not really making eye contact with them. And when he goes on to introduce everyone else he knows ("That's my brother, B, and my sister, J, and my cousin, DN-A, and my other cousin, Baby DN-J.") most people just think it's cute that he then shares his address and phone number, not really catching on that A - He's still not making any eye contact, B - He's talking to a total stranger, and C - Should he really be sharing all of this personal info with someone he doesn't know?! And while A is like this with adults who think this is cute, kids kind of look at him strange when he starts talking like this.

He made his first "friend" last Saturday at a Mother's and More BBQ. DH and I were so excited as he brought his friend over to let us meet him. I tried sharing with a couple moms there what an incredible milestone this was, but I don't think they really got it. B is the one that can just start playing and talking with other kids at the park and then play with them for a while. A tries to do this but just never has gotten the hang of it. One of the areas that was mentioned a few times on the eval was the whole social thing, so I know that is something we'll be putting in his IEP to help him learn.

I guess I need to get over my "shock" that I had hit the nail on the head with my diagnosis. I had kind of been hoping that I was wrong, that I was exaggerating the problems in my head so I could get lots of help for him. But I wasn't. And I know I wasn't. And it's now been confirmed that I wasn't. And that's just the way it is. He's still the same loveable kid, the one who loves to read, the one who loves computers and all electronics (well, he's obsessed with them, but he still loves them!), the one who will perform any song at the drop of the hat, my surprising first born. He just now officially has Asperger's.

And I now join a club that I never really thought I'd be a part of. I had read the "Holland story" before (comparing the experience of parenting a child with special needs to taking a trip to Italy and ending up in Holland - there's lots of great things about Holland, you just weren't planning to go there) and had kind of thought that being the parent of twins was kind of like that. I just never thought that I would be able to relate to the story the way it was really intended.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Not really liking Blogger right now

Three times. That's how many times I have written this post.

The second time was because A got to the computer when I left for a moment to investigate B's long absence upstairs. I came back to his Thomas website and my post gone.

This third time is because Blogger suddenly gave a message that there is no connection all of sudden to Blogger so I went to save the draft so I could investigage this and my almost finished post got erased. Again.

So I don't have the heart to rewrite the whole thing for the third time, but know that it was impressive. Possibly the best writing I ever did. It was, dare I say, brilliant, the kind of post that makes you laugh, and cry, relate to every aspect of it, want to quote me and link to it. Just know that I am capable of that kind of writing ... even if you never get to see it.

The jist of it was that I keep making fabulous plans and reality sets in like a tantruming two year, screaming and crying and changing everything I was trying to accomplish (can you tell my daughter is having a hissy fit at my feet?). After listing many examples of recent plans vs. reality, I decided to start over all over again with each of them. Fresh start and all that.

Feel inspired? Trust me, if you had read either of the two original posts, you would be. For now, you'll have to take my word on that.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pros and Cons

Pros of staying here and renovating:
1) Worked with my mom and have a great plan on what to do with the house - two story additon, second floor would add a master bedroom suite (sweet!) and would make the current master bedroom into a guest room/office, first floor would make the current dining room into an extension of the living room, would make my current kitchen into a walk in pantry and laundry room (very nice), current laundry area would become a powder room, then addition space would be an open kitchen/dining area with lots of space and counters and cabinets, plus a mudroom.

2) Am getting a huge shed delivered soon which will give us so much outdoor storage

3) The pirate ship that we fell in love with will also be delivered at the same time and will give the kids even more climbing area outside

4) Have now come up with fabulous painting ideas for the whole house

5) Went to Linens and Things with my sister on Sunday for a new shower curtain for my bathroom with the ugly peach tile. Ended up with a shower curtain and bath rug, matching hand towels, and above the toilet cabinet which all completely change the look of the bathroom. I smile every time I walk up the stairs and see it.

6) Low taxes

7) Great neighbors

8) Good school district

9) Wouldn't have to pack everything, though I'm trying to go with the mindset that we DO have to pack so therefore we need to get rid of everything we don't love.

Cons of staying here:
1) Living through construction

2) No finished basement (but could utilize the current playroom solely as a playroom, so that would give the kids more space)

Gosh, looking through that list, it seems pretty clear.
Of course, it depends on what we find out there and how much contractors will charge to do all that I want.

Okay, better call the contractors! We're going to check out three houses tomorrow afternoon. We'll see...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The road less traveled

Two roads diverged in the woods.
And I . . . am going nuts trying to see all the way to the end of both of them!

Uncertainty was never something I handled very well. I've always liked to know exactly what I'm getting into before I step, let alone leap. I know this has been an issue all my life. I never looked at colleges - there were too many to think about. I knew I had to pay for it myself, so I picked a state school that was relatively nearby that had a great reputation for music and education. Done. Graduating college and not knowing the next step nearly killed me. I survived because I knew that DH and I were going to be married in a year, so I had the wedding and marriage to think about, plus I threw myself wholeheartedly into day to day subbing. I had even been a vegetarian for awhile, one of the reasons was it limited the choices for me on the menu!

Right now, looking at our options of possibly moving to a neighboring town or staying here and expanding is really tough. I want to just pick one, either one, and start wholeheartedly thinking about and planning for it. I know that is not smart decision making, and I know that I really need to think through both options because there are pros and cons with both of them. I know, I know, I know. But I want to take the easy way out, which in reality is what we've been doing for the past eight years that we've lived here. We haven't been happy with lots of elements of this house, but except for converting the garage into a playroom that also houses our computer armoire, we haven't done anything about it. So at least now I'm moving forward, but each time I take a few steps down one path, something calls out to me about the other, like I come up with a great painting idea for our current living room, or our real estate agent just e-mailed us pictures and details for a bunch of houses that are in the price range we decided on Wednesday we could handle that seem great on the computer. We're setting up a time to see three of them that DH and I both liked. And on Monday I will call a few contractors to come out and give us estimates on building an addition. Of course, since I don't have a perfect idea of what I want in an addition, only a fairly vague sense (a powder room, an open kitchen/great room, possibly a second floor addition as well as is being recommended to us by the real estate agent), I'm not sure how they can really give us an estimate, but I figure it can't hurt.

I want to move forward NOW. If we're moving, I need to get new carpeting in the living room and dining room. I need to paint the stairway/hallway a nice neutral color. If we're staying, I need to find out how much it would cost to open up the archway dividing the living room and dining room and at the same time rip up the carpeting and get the hardwood floors sanded and stained. If we're moving, I need to do something about the awful linoleum in the kitchen. If we're staying we will be ripping it all up anyway to build the addition so it's no big deal. Either way, I'm trying to get DH on board with at least getting in the mind set that we're moving and will be packing up everything, so we need to start flinging more and more, like the boxes that have been in the attic for eight years now. Or the junk that is all around the basement. One way or another it will feel so great to go through all that stuff and fling most of it.

Okay, I have a direction, a job: to find out as much info as I can about both choices so I can make an informed, grown up decision.

And going back to bed is not an option.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things R is Thankful for . . . AGAIN

I know I did this topic last week too, but I went to bed feeling so great (which is not very typical for me, unfortunately) I thought I would type up a new list this week.

1. I "brought the box to Borders" last night again. :) I boxed up all the papers in the house and spent five uninterrupted hours by myself. Aaaahhhh... I first went to Panera's and ate a fabulous salad while reading a good book (Little Earthquakes - I'm really enjoying Jennifer Weiner).

2. Then I went to Borders and sorted through all the papers. I threw out a ton of trash and paid a few bills.

3. I made a list on my steno pad (love steno pads!) of all the things I need to do based on the papers I found which are now stacked neatly in my TO DO box in order.

4. I went to bed feeling so on top of that aspect of my life, mainly because I had a plan on how to get everything accomplished.

5. I have a great husband, because all I had to do was e-mail him during the day yesterday that I needed him to take over at five so I could do this and he did it. I had two other great places that I could have also gone last night (book club and Mother's and More meeting) but this left me feeling so wonderful in a totally different way than going to either of those would have, even as exciting and fabulous they both would have been.

6. My wonderful MOMS Club Board gave me a Visa gift card as a thank you for being president. So great! I had fun yesterday treating myself to dinner, a Chai tea at Borders, and two decorating magazines that are now full of post-it notes of things I want to do around the house. And I still have more on it!

7. I discovered an amazing chore chart that we started using on Monday. It's working so great!!! The kids are so motivated to do their morning routine (yes, it's like a baby control journal) just so they can move the ticket naming each step into the "I did it!" box.

8. My super sister came up with the idea of doing a kid sleepover exchange to allow each of us to have a kid-free weekend to celebrate our anniversaries. And since my anniversary is coming up - I'm thrilled!!!

9. I made reservations for us to spend a night in a fancy hotel in town with their Wedding Night package during our kid-free weekend. It includes breakfast in bed!

10. We also plan on spending one night at home, after we enjoy a nice leisurely dinner and an eight o'clock movie. We will get to sleep in both mornings. Aaahhh...

11. I met with a real estate agent yesterday afternoon. She is on the same page as us. We want to compare our options: building on to this place or making a "lateral" move to a larger house in a neighboring town where we can get more for the money. I'm honestly leaning more towards staying here, but after giving the agent my must haves (an entranceway, a finished basement, a yard, an open kitchen that is large enough for people to gather) she promised to look to see what's out there for what we're currently paying.

12. A's evaluation was completed yesterday when the psychologist from the IU got a chance to observe him at school. She left before the end of the school day, but told his teacher that she defintely saw the things we were talking about.

13. It's my brother-in-law's birthday today, so even though C is working late again, I don't have to do dinner alone as my sister is making it for all of us at her house.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Anjali found a NY Times Op-Ed article about bedrest which prompted her to ask the question on our Mothers and More message board if any of us were ever on bedrest and what it was like. I began writing this response there but soon found that it was probably way more than she probably was expecting so thought it would be better to make it a blog post.

When what I thought was my boys pushing against my uterus as they battled for more space was diagnosed as preterm labor at 26 weeks, I did whatever the doctors said. And that began my 8 weeks of bedrest, a true roller coaster ride of emotions, various medications (with a variety of nasty side effects), and hospital trips.

While home, my laptop was my lifeline. I don't think I could have kept my sanity without it. Unfortunately, some of the medications I was sent home with made it very difficult to type since my hands were either shaking so much or my brain was a little too clouded with muscle relaxants. The highlight of my day was the change of scenery I was allowed: my once a day trip down the stairs to the couch which I saved for lunchtime when my mom or mother-in-law would come over to make me lunch.

Twice a day I was required to monitor my contractions for an hour. One hour of doing nothing but lying still, notebook next to me, hand on my stomach so I could feel each time my uterus became hard. I would be given a certain number that would be "okay" and was told to call the office if I felt more than that. In the beginning four was the magic number, but that soon increased to five, than six, all the way up to eight. Each time I felt more contractions than I should, the hour became two hours while I layed on my left side, increased my water supply, and monitored for another hour. If I felt the same number of contractions, I generally had to journey to the hospital. Virtually every time we had to make that drive to Labor and Delivery, never knowing if this trip would be "the one," it snowed. It got to the point that if the weatherman predicted snow, we packed a bag and put it by the door. Usually I was monitored, given IV fluids and more medication, and then sent home after a day or two.

Eventually the number of contractions we felt at home got to be too many and I was kept at the hospital for the duration on Magnesium Sulfate, a strong and truly nasty muscle relaxant. Every day in the hospital for these final two weeks, taking one day at a time, never knowing when I would deliver but hoping we could keep the boys in to grow stronger one more day, then one more day, I discovered how different hospital bedrest was from being at home. At home, in addition to being allowed my one journey up and down the steps, I was also allowed to take one short shower a day AND walk to the bathroom as many times as I needed. In the hospital, I was given a commode at the side of my bed and a bottle of waterless shampoo and a washcloth to "bathe" while lying down. In short, I didn't get out of bed much at all.

A strange complication soon began while in the hospital, mainly annoying and embarrassing at first, but soon so uncomfortable I was unable to hide it. I began swelling between my legs. My OBs would tell me that everyone on bedrest experience some swelling, and that they have to worry about all three of the patients, in essence, telling me to suck it up because the two babies growing inside of me are more important than my health and aren't I a bad mother for even suggesting that something be done to relieve my discomfort. The swelling soon got to the point that each of the nurses would come in to look because they had never seen anything like it. They would come in at the beginning of their shifts offering new remedies for me to try, everything from witch hazel to ice packs. I learned after the fact that my one main nurse went home and cried for me - you don't often hear of nurses doing that! Eventually it became so severe that I could no longer keep my legs on the bed; they had to be spread so that my feet were on the sides of the matress. The nurses had to find an extra wide commode for me to use, and during the last few days I needed four nurses to help me use it - two to help lift me and one on each leg. And yet my OBs continued to discount my situation as common, though they refused to examine me. In the early hours of my last day on bedrest, three nurses came in to explain to me, in no uncertain terms, that it is within my rights to refuse medical treatment, and that if the OBs don't agree to do a c-section that morning they would go over their heads to the chief of obstetrics.

My emergency c-section was performed that morning. By then the swelling was so severe that a catheter was impossible to insert (though they tried and my screams are what my husband heard as he came running down the hall that morning) and I was unable to sit up to be given an epidural. I was given general anasthesia to knock me out and the boys were taken out within seconds of each other. The swelling was so extreme at that point that my bladder ruptured during this procedure and a urologist was called in to sew it back together.

After my eight weeks of bedrest, I needed a catheter for two weeks and physical therapy to help me begin walking again. After the surgery, the swelling moved down my legs until my legs, ankles, and feet were so swollen it was near impossible to move them. I used both a wheelchair and a walker for many weeks. My husband had to go to K-Mart and buy me men's flip flops that had velcro so I could fit my swollen feet into them. I made quite a fashion statement when I journeyed back to the hospital to spend the time with my babies in the NICU, wearing heavy socks with my flip flops to combat the cold and a button down dress: the button down part so I could pump every two hours, the dress part so I didn't have to have anything too tight between my legs, since it was still quite swollen and I needed to continue to wear the catheter as my bladder healed.

And I have to say, as awful an experience it was, I would do it all over again if I found myself in the same situation, pregnant with twins and dilated, effaced, and contracting at 26 weeks. Even with no definitive proof that bedrest works, following the OBs instructions as closely as possible made me feel like I was doing something in a terrifying situation, gave me a sense of control in something that was truly not in my control at all. Ultimately, it worked. Who is to say if the boys would have stayed in that long even if I had done none of it? Bottom line, they are healthy four year olds now, and that's all that matters.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Books - my drug of choice

Books have always been my drug of choice. They numbed me, allowed me to escape into their stories, become part of their lives, without affecting me too much. I relied on them anytime I became too overwhelmed, relished their easy friendship, their welcoming words, knowing that I can become any of the characters by simply opening the cover. They helped me survive.

The years following college were tough for me.

I think I did a really good job faking it, but oh, the uncertainty of my life was so unsettling, so unnerving, I had trouble remembering to breathe in and out sometimes.

I remember my final semester of college, student teaching done, weeks away from graduation, and no job lined up for September. I remember lying in bed on my left side, facing the door, sobbing. Not being able to function. Not being able to get up enough energy to get out of bed. By most accounts, I should have been on top of the world. I was getting married the following year. I was finishing college magna cum laude, having worked numerous jobs in order to pay for, but I had done it. But for once in my life, I had no idea what I was going to do in September. I applied to district after district, but none were hiring. I would need to be a day to day sub to make money and gain experience, and the nonpermanance of that was almost more than I could bear.

But I survived. I sucked it up, pushed those feelings deep inside, and moved on.

The next year I got married and we moved into our first apartment. A small, one bedroom apartment. I also started my first year teaching, working with a classroom of gifted fifth graders (or fifth graders whose parents insisted they were gifted), figuring out how to write lesson plans, grade papers, stay one step ahead of my very gifted math students, write IEPs, deal with very demanding parents, all while learning how to live with a man, make dinners, and take care of our home. It was a challenging year. And those feelings, still pushed deep down, kept threatening to explode. They would bubble out of me in arguements I would have with DH over the stupidest things, ooze out of me by making it near impossible to remember each child as an individual without my copious notes since the anxiety I was living with made my memory mush, even encompass me in a great fog when all I wanted to do was play solitaire on the computer and read romance books.

I don't play solitaire much anymore, but my idea of heaven is still a stack of books that I haven't read yet and uninterrupted time to read them. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with reading, with diving into a book and losing yourself in the characters completely, barely coming up for air until the book is done. I remember one summer before we had kids when DH was working all day. I had gotten a job at a summer writing camp, working in the afternoons, and had plans for how to use each morning: rewriting unit plans, coming up with fabulous activities for my classroom, reorganizing closets and cabinets. And yet I never did any of it. Every morning, no matter what my intention was, I would escape all of my responsiblities by reading. Book after book, one after the other, no breaks in between. I would try to set limits, to set a timer for half an hour to ensure I would get up and accomplish something before I had to leave for camp. The timer that I would end up pushing for another chunk of time, and another chunk of time, until it was the last possible minute that I had to leave to arrive at camp on time. And so it went, day after day, all summer long.

Some time the next year I was diagnosed with depression brought on by Post-traumatic-stress disorder, brought on from growing up with my brother, a story for another time. So many things began making sense to me, my inability to function in social situations, my need for control, my detattchment from my feelings. My need to escape. I saw how my reading was one method I had been using to escape from my real feelings, from my real life.

I've written before how something changed for me when I got pregnant with the boys. Maybe it was something chemical, maybe just the fact that I had an instant conversation starter, that people remembered me because I was the one with the twins, I don't know, but life changed. I guess it's really my ability to cope with life changed, but things seemed different. And then I discovered FLYlady, which gave me an approach to dealing with things around the house when they got too overwhelming.

I don't really know where I'm going with all of this, why I felt the need to write about it today. I guess it's because I've been reading a lot recently. I think I needed to remember how I used to use my books because I see myself moving in that direction the past few days, or at least skating dangerously close. I've wasted so much of this weekend in reading. I've read some really great books, but didn't get to do any of the things I was planning to do, things I was really looking forward to getting accomplished. I'm feeling really down on myself because of it. This last week was a blur for me because I was so sick and felt so crappy. I guess everyone needs a weekend off once in a while. Even moms. But I have to remember that reading is my drug of choice to numb myself from all I feel, and clearly it's a slippery slope for me. I just finished a book (In Her Shoes was a lot better than I expected it to be) so I think I need to take a break from reading for a little, lift up my head again, take a deep breath, and continue to plod through this life of mine once again. Here goes.

Friday, June 02, 2006

My great sister

I have a great sister.

Fridays are her day off. Knowing how sick I've been, she called me to see if I wanted her to take my kids with her when she goes to this Playhouse in the city with her neighbor. Uh....yeah!!! I drove to her house so she could take my van (which has the five carseats in it) and she left me alone there. She took the kids all morning and into the afternoon, stopping at McDonald's to give them all lunch. I laid in her bed all morning watching cable, reading my book, and just relaxing. I feel so much better! I mean, I'm still hacking up a lung, blowing my nose like crazy, and dealing with painful pressure behind my ears, but I have more of my voice back and don't feel like my head is in a fog. I just put J down for a nap and the boys are laying on the couch watching tv. Life is good. :)

So let me tell you about yesterday. A's eval went really well. When he met the first person and said to hi to her while focusing squarely on her right shoulder, I was quite pleased. Is that wrong? I was so worried that we would arrive there and he would do so well getting the undivided attention of a bunch of grown-ups that they would finish up and look at us like we were crazy for even thinking there's anything wrong. I know he's very verbal and is very bright and is very social with grown-ups, but he still doesn't really play with other kids his age (besides his twin), isn't great with eye contact, is unusally obsessed with computers and other electronics, and has a whole bunch of sensory issues to boot. I shared my concerns with the first tester (the speech and language person) and she reassured me that the evaluation that day was only part of what they would use to make a diagnosis, that someone would be evaluating him at school next week, plus DH and I had a bunch of checklist type forms to fill out. One of them was specifically for Asperger's, so at least they were taking that theory seriously. All in all, A blew them away with is reading ability (tested in the 99th percentile) and his verbal skills (he doesn't miss anything, even stopped the testing to show the one man where the stickers were in the room when he commented that he wished he had a sticker for A's picture). We were allowed in the room the whole time (really glad DH insisted on coming!), even though we were supposed to be filling out the checklists. It was a lot of fun, truth be told, to watch A answer all their questions with A logic. At one point they were trying to figure out if he knew his whole name. They asked him his name, and he spelled it for them (he loves to do that). Then they asked what his other name was. He paused, and then replied, "B!" That cracked me up. I told them in a separate room that if they asked him what his whole name was he might know, but they didn't word it that way. Bottom line, one of them told me that he definitely qualifies for some services (YES!) and that they would get the report in the mail to me in a few weeks, and we would meet to discuss it in July when they get back from their break. I'm so relieved that we got that over with. And A LOVED it! Even threw a fit when it was time to go.

Since I have a little energy this afternoon, I'm going to attempt to move the furniture in my bedroom. Well, it's not like I can lay down anymore today!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things R is Grateful for Today

1. My cold is finally starting to get a little better.

2. A's eval at the IU is today!!!

3. My friend Heather has volunteered to watch DN-A and B here today so I don't need to take them with me to the IU.

4. The preschool director (who I'm friends with) volunteered for me to drop off all the kids at school today so I didn't have to bring them with me. I'm taking her up on the offer for J, who wants to go to school so bad, since it's just a young 2s class that has room right now.

5. My DH feels strongly enough about helping A that he found coverage for his classes to come to the eval with me, even though I told him we'll just be sitting in the waiting room.

6. J is STILL sleeping, 2 hours later than usual! (Yes, I already checked, she is still breathing.)

7. J is so verbal that when she woke up screaming last night, she was able to tell me, "I'm scared of the monkey!" allowing me to lift up all the covers, show her there was no monkey in her crib, and help her lay down and go right back to sleep. A still wakes up screaming and crying and even being as verbal as he is, cannot tell me what is wrong.

8. B has a cold and began complaining that his neck hurt last night, which could possibly be a sign of menengitis. The doctor could see him last night, with no trip to the ER necessary, and said that he was fine. Even his lungs sounded clear, even with all the coughing he is doing.

9. DH has been so great the past couple days with me being sick, helping as much as he can.

10. I had two other friends who also offered to watch the kids today so I wouldn't have to take them to A's eval.

11. I figured out a way to create an entranceway to my house by rearranging the furniture in my living room. An entranceway is one of the things I really want in a house, one of the things I like when looking at other houses, so now I'm leaning towards staying in our current house and building on.

12. My sister was able to work from home today to help me out, so she will keep the baby with her today and will be able to pick up J from school at 1 and come here to relieve Heather.

13. A was able to get dressed ALMOST by himself today with relatively few tantrums of it being "too hard." Today it worked by breaking it down one step at a time ("Okay, I'm going to go put my shirt on. Let me help you get your arms out of your pajama top and then you put your shirt on. Let's see if you can beat me. Ready? Go!") - a little time consuming, but he still did the majority of the work himself!

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