Life as MommyMo

Friday, September 25, 2009

Conversation on the way to school

For the past few days, our family has been praying for the family of a little boy named Seth, who was adopted from Korea through the same adoption agency we used. We have gotten to know Seth and his parents, Liz and Scott, through the many functions that Holt adoptive families have hosted over the years. Liz is quite possibly the friendliest person ever born, and always makes sure to make us feel comfortable and welcome. For that reason, she was the very first person we ever met through Holt and we have stayed in touch for a long time.

We learned on Tuesday evening that Liz, Scott and Seth were in a horrible car accident on Sunday night. Sweet little Seth passed away and his mother is still critical and unaware that her son is gone. Scott is recovering at the hospital and forced to deal with this awful new reality alone at the moment (though I'm hearing many friends and family have been to see him...)

As we were driving to school today, the song "Jesus Take the Wheel" came on. There's a line in there about praying and Sam piped up and asked what "she" was praying for. We had a quick discussion about how you can really pray for anything... that's it's a way for you to talk to God no matter how you're feeling.

He replied, "I remember, Mommy. I've been praying for Seth and his family just like we talked about."

I started crying all over again, but was also so proud that my sweet little guy understands that prayer can bring comfort to people that you can't be with in a time of need.

Sam went on to say that he still prays for Ellie, the dog we lost a couple of years ago. I told him that was wonderful, and reminded him that you can pray for people that are still with you, too.

He said, "Right. Like firefighters."

I said, "Sure. We pray to keep them safe because their job is dangerous and to tell God we are thankful that they take care of us."

He said. "Well, I ask God to help them not be sweaty. It's hot in a fire."

Nothing like a little levity, even if it was not intentional!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Seeing clearly

Sam had his five-year-old check-up on Friday. Thanks to several factors over the years, we are more on a mid-way-through-the-year plan for his well visits...

It's now Sunday morning and I'm fairly sure I've still got a hearing loss as a result of this visit. I told Sam in the morning that I'd be picking him up from school early so he could go see the doctor. He immediately asked if he'd be getting any shots. I told him that I wasn't sure. He seemed to take it in stride.

We arrived at the office, and he asked the receptionist if he'd be getting any shots. She said she didn't know. Again, fine with him.

We get into the exam room, and he asks the nurse if he'd be getting any shots. She at first said she didn't know. Then, after his eye exam and blood pressure reading, he asked again. At that point, she reviewed his papers and saw that he was up to date, but had not had a flu shot yet. When I nodded that I did want him to have it, the freaking out began.


It took the doctor a while to come in and finish the visit, for which we were able to have no meaningful conversation, despite the fact that he'd been evaluated for ADHD since we were last there. The nice man took pity on me and just covered the basics, I think.

I did learn that he's grown two inches in the last year and gained four pounds. He's a whopping 37 pounds when dressed now!

I was also quite surprised to see that he failed his vision exam. I never would have guessed that would happen, but I stood there and watched as he consistently confused a circle shape with house and heart shapes. I came home and made an appointment with a pediatric opthalmologist and am guessing we'll end up needing to get him glasses.

The funny part is that his Daddy has terrible vision. If his glasses come anywhere near my face, they give me an instant headache. Sam keeps grabbing them and putting them on. I yell at Rob to not allow that since it's got to be bad for Sam's eyes. Now I'm guessing that they aren't nearly as annoying to Sam as they are to me since he actually needs some help with his vision.

That same afternoon I tried to make an endocrinologist appointment for Rob. A very short version of the current situation is that Rob's experiencing some unusual symptoms related to his thyroid, the likes of which we have not seen since he was diagnosed with cancer 12 years ago. Our family doctor has determined that a good endocrinologist needs to assess him. I, of course, am a little concerned, as is Rob. We're obviously hopeful that nothing major will come of this, but it's scary nonetheless.

Lucky for us, there is a gigantic perk in working for the American Cancer Society in that when I expressed a bit of concern to my boss, I was quickly ushered to the deputy chief medical officer, who completely assessed Rob's symptoms and history and was able to placate me, saying that he was fairly sure there's not a recurrence, but still an endocrine issue that needs addressing. He strongly recommended we see a doctor at Johns Hopkins who is known as the best thryoid cancer expert in the world right now. I called the next day and learned that what we thought was good health insurance isn't recognized by that health system. We still think it's important to get checked out by this doctor, so are going to fork over an obscene amount of money for a consult.

I follow the health care reform debate very closely and recognize that there are many factors involved in what people see as the best plan. I consistently analyze what I'm hearing and still believe that it's a basic human right to have health care, particularly if you live in a country where it is so readily available. I also agree with my pastor who makes the point that Christians are directed to love their neighbors as they love themselves. Ensuring that your neighbor, no matter their financial status, can access health care is a clear example of that directive.

I could not stop thinking of those without insurance or financial resources as I made Rob's appointment. We might as well not have insurance in this case. Luckily, we are able to scrap and sacrifice to afford the consult. Many people might not be so lucky. They might be able to call this fantastic doctor, only to learn that the very best in the field in within their sight, but cannot help them with an issue like a cancer scare (or worse) because they cannot afford to pay for the visit.

I do not believe that is right.

I have been pondering exactly how I want to change the world in the name of little Anna, who so beautifully changed the world in her short 80 days on this Earth. I am coming to the conclusion that I need to find a way to be more actively involved in helping people get health care. I will continue to be involved in the advocacy side of this, but I want to find a way to more practically provide help as well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I can't believe I haven't blogged lately given all that's going on.

Sam started kindergarten. The last big transition of the season that I'd been anticipating went quite well. Sam was eager to get to school on his first day. He bounced out of bed, tore through his breakfast, gladly hauled his heavy backpack and raced down the street to ride together with his friend Adam. He was excited that he got to play on the big kid playground before going inside... And then he saw the fifth graders.

These children are clearly not bred from the same stock as my child. Some were as tall as me! Sam took no notice at first, but when it came time to line up and he saw that these giant creatures were going the same place he was, he buried his head in my side and grabbed my hand.

I'd been holding myself together really well until that point. Since he'd already been going to daycare, I wasn't figuring I'd be one of the weepy moms at the point of departure. But when he grabbed me and I asked what was wrong, he replied, "Mommy. I think I might be a little nervous." And he looked at me with really wide, worried eyes. There wasn't much time for reassurance before his teacher whisked the kids away to go inside.

That's when I welled up. When most everyone else had composed themselves, I had huge tears in my eyes, all worried that every bit of gumption my kid had been blessed with was failing him when he needed it most. Luckily, I caught a glimpse of him as he was about to go inside, and he was already three inches from another child's face, surely asking "Do you want to be my friend?" in his sweet, innocent and overly enthusiastic way (that has been known to slightly frighten less outgoing youngsters.)

He came home that day acting like a teenager, unwilling to tell us what went on and claiming that school was "boring." He's since recanted that, but does complain that "they make us WORK there." Asked what that means, he says "we have to talk to each other. And write. And read stuff." All of this is clearly standing in the way of good recess time.

Max, too, has adjusted beautifully to daycare. He's done better than I ever would have expected. Yesterday was his eighth drop-off and he didn't shed a single tear. Nary a whimper. Just a look over at me, and then a glance back at the goldfish sitting in front of him. It does make my day easier to know he likes it there.

The big news from yesterday is that Max had his early intervention evaluation and definitely qualifies for services. What I'd suspected turned out to be true. He has very low muscle tone, but thankfully, nothing neurological or cognitive that we need to deal with. He just needs some baby Pilates, apparently!

We do have to start him in physical therapy and practice quite a few new techniques at home to that build up his core strength. At 14 months old (12 gestationally) he was determined to have the gross motor skills of a seven month old, the fine motor skills of an eight month old and delayed adaptive skills. All of them stem from his low tone, so he should catch up quickly once the therapy starts. I'm actually really relieved to know that this will be easily overcome. We, of course, would love him no matter what forever and always, but I think any parent would be relieved to learn that any significant challenges will not come to fruition. At least not these challenges...

I have, unfortunately, known and heard of several people lately to lose their precious infant children. I think of these families daily, and have definitely learned a great deal about cherishing each and every day, no matter what that day might bring. I've even taken on a particular challenge to find a new way to change the world in memory of little Anna. I am determined to find a significant response to that challenge.

I suppose I should get this day underway. We all have school/work, then Max's final post-placement visit (finalization is within reach now. YAY!) and the first of the pre-marriage classes Rob and I teach at church tonight.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Holding my breath

It dawned on me this morning that I have been walking around almost literally holding my breath for days now... It's a wonder I don't have fabulous abdominal muscles to show for it. Wait. I probably do. They're just "hidden."

Seriously, though. I will admit that I have a tendency to worry (you can enter your votes for my understatement-of-the-year prize now, thank you.) But I can't believe how many "big" things I have going on in my pea brain right now.

First, I'm a wee bit nervous that yesterday was a weird honeymoon thing and that Max will have a bad day again today. I'm slightly more comforted than I was 24 hours ago, but when we took him in today (we decided to take him in and pick him up together all week) he looked at me as if to say "Wait. I was ok with this little diversion yesterday, but WHAT do you MEAN you're leaving me here again?!" Miss Judy did seem to have him calm before we ever left the building, though.

Second, Sam will have his own huge adjustment to make next week. I just hope his teachers see him for the sweet, smart little guy he is, even if his energy level takes some getting used to. I also hope he won't get too frustrated trying to learn all kinds of new things in a new place. Again, I can find some comfort in a comment from his pre-K teacher. She told us that of all the students she's had over the years, Sam will be one of those she remembers forever. She described him as one of the sweetest children she's ever had. That's SO nice to hear!

Third, work is um, stressful to say the very least. I love my job, but like anyone else, the news of layoffs all around you leaves you a little nervous. I'm staying positive, but it's a *constant* source of conversation whenever I talk to anyone from the office.

Finally, there's a great deal of emotion and stress with a few family issues right now that has me sad and yes, worried, for sure. It doesn't really feel like something to discuss "out loud" at length, but I can't help but think about it on a very regular basis.

All of this leaves me thinking a few things. First, I have to remember that so far we've been blessed that all problems do work themselves out. Second, I have to swallow the bitter mommy pill... the one that tells you that your kids really are fine on their own to some degree and that it's good for them to learn to do things without you holding their little hands. I'm speaking more of Sam here... and I am constantly reminding myself that he's a spunky little boy who can find happiness no matter what. Finally, I really do need to commit myself to what I *can* do to keep unnecessary and pointless worry to a minimum. I'm going to do my best to channel my energy into getting recommitted to eating right and exercising every day. It takes a lot of planning for me to follow the right plan in that regard, so that should leave little time for me to fret!

Phil 4:13...........I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Max's Day

If you'd paid me yesterday to believe that Max would have a fabulous first day at daycare, I would have laughed at you (even though I know how rude that is) and turned away.

Well... Score one for Max's ability to surprise his mommy. I called daycare around 9:45 this morning for an update and was dismayed to hear "Umma... MaMA... MAMA... MAMAMAMAMA" in the background. That's code for "I'm miserable and want the heck out of here right this very instant." Surprisingly, the teacher said he'd actually been pretty good, but that he cried on and off.

Honestly, I wasn't totally convinced, but since I *wanted* to believe he was adjusting, I chose to believe it. She said that he just happened to cry as I called. Sure, lady. Likely story.

I was waiting to jump in the car as Rob came home so we could pick Max up together today. I darted in the door, holding my breath. First alarming issue: I didn't see Max anywhere and the nice young lady working in the room seemed to not know who we were. She quickly figured it out and told us he was outside on the swings and "He had a GREAT day." Again... Sure, lady. A minute ago you didn't recognize me. You probably don't even realize which kid is mine. He'd be the one who blubbered and hiccuped his way through the day, desperate for his mommy to return.

So... I get out the back door and find someone cradling Max and headed back toward the building. "See?" I thought. "He's STILL crying and needs to be brought inside to calm down."


He'd fallen asleep on the swings and was being brought inside to be laid down for a little extra nap time. (Turns out it was to be laid down for any nap, since he never really slept...)

The nice lady carrying him inside was effusive about what a great day he had. And get this: once he woke up and saw us, he just smiled and smiled and gestured toward the teacher as if to say "Hey, Mom and Dad. Check out this lovely woman who's been taking care of me today. She's nice. I will be happy to come back here every day while you work. Please stop worrying about me."

I was seriously almost giddy. I'm sure I walked around the school with a giant cheesy smile on my face. I am still slightly in shock that he did so well. I mean, I know he's a genius and has been through other trauma, but I fully expected the adjustment to take more than two hours. Even his gregarious older brother required more time to get used to life at Laurel Tree Academy.

So... here's hoping tomorrow goes so well. Seeing the little munchkin so happy is quite possibly the best answer to prayer I've had in a while. I guess I can move on to worrying about Sam's adjustment to kindergarten now.

Our Big Day

The day I've been dreading finally arrived. Max started daycare this morning.

I am very grateful that timing and my employer allowed him to be home with one of us since he arrived over four months ago, but it was still hard to leave him with someone else. I know he'll eventually be fine, but knowing him as well as I do now, I also have no doubt today will NOT be a happy day for him.

It breaks my heart to think he could be wondering whether or not we'll be back. After all, he has experienced that kind of profound loss before. We did prepare as best we could. Rob was stopping in the Chickadees room (how cute is THAT?!) to visit Miss Judy every day when Sam was in camp. It's not like Max has never seen the school or the teachers or even the other kids...

When we brought him in today, he was actually smiling and giggling while we were still there, a sure sign he recognizes the environment and even kind of likes it. He didn't seem to realize we'd be leaving, so it took him a few seconds after our staggered exit to start to cry. I'm splitting hairs when I say this, but I think he was slightly less traumatized than he is when we leave him at church (where he doesn't know the very nice people who watch him as well.)

It's taking every shred of self discipline I have not to start calling to check on him now. I figure it would be better to let him settle in and let the teachers focus on him rather than our phone calls. They told us he'd be watching a Baby Einstein video, having story time, singing songs and playing outside all before lunchtime at 11:30 a.m. After that, he'll go down for a nap, then some more play time before we get him the instant Rob is done at school at 3 p.m.

I keep telling myself that each day that we come back to get him reinforces that we always will and that he can relax and have fun. I hope it doesn't take too long, but at least I have Sam's experience at the school to tell me that he'll be loved and well cared for. Miss Judy is really one of the sweetest people I've ever met, so I have no doubt that she will dote on him. She'd already picked him up to soothe him as we were leaving, which wasn't the case when Sam first started. (He was in an "older" room and they had a more matter-of-fact approach.)

I'll check back in later to report how the day went. Let's hope I can immerse myself in all of the various edits I need to make to Relay materials today in order to keep my mind occupied. I'm treating myself by working downstairs where I can have CNN on all day. I so miss getting nonstop news when I'm upstairs. Now that the house is empty, I can at least feed my news habit while I wait for the boys to come home.