Decisions For Them: To Operate or Not?

One of the biggest challenges I face as a parent is the ongoing need to make tough decisions on my children’s behalf.  Society tells us that mothers know best, but do we really?  Do I really?  I’m not always so sure.  In the past few years I’ve really felt the magnitude of this burden, specifically with decisions involving my boys’ health.

In the last year, I was required to make two separate medical decisions, one per child.  To operate or to not operate?  Two totally different surgeries.  Surgeries which in the professional opinions of their specialists would be of extreme benefit to each boy.  The results sounded tempting but I wouldn’t be the one who would be going through the procedures.  I wouldn’t be the one going under the knife.  My choice, their bodies.  It took a while to arrive at my decision.  I mulled over what the doctors had said, I did my own research and ultimately decided that the benefits far outweighed the possible complications.  I ended up opting for surgery for both boys.

Our experience with the first surgery last year was not what I had expected.  Recovery was rough.  No, that’s an understatement.  Recovery was hell.  We learned the hard way that our youngest son is a bleeder.  He bled and he bled and he bled.  We ended up at the doctor’s office the day after surgery followed by 3 visits to the ER during the first week of recovery.  His dried blood acting as a form of glue had fused the bandages to his skin.  He screamed in pain. He cried out for me.  I couldn’t help him and it broke my heart.

On the third day, on our first visit to the ER, the nurses and doctor decided if they were going to have any luck removing the bandages they would have to sedate him.  On that Wednesday afternoon, I was introduced to the frightening effects of Ketamine.  They assured me it was the best option at this point.  He would be awake but he wouldn’t feel anything and he wouldn’t remember any of it.  I helplessly agreed.

Starting an IV was more difficult than anyone in that room had anticipated.  My son’s arms violently flailing, his precious blood seeping all over the white sheets.  They called for back up.

Once they administered the Ketamine, the effect was instant.  His screams turned into a weak moan which turned into silence.  His eyes widened, his pupils shifted, the left to the left and the right to the right, as if they were trying to escape his body.  His stare devoid of emotion.  His movements stopped and he lay there still, eyes wide open and helpless as the doctor and nurses quickly worked to remove the bandages.  I could not control my tears.  I was broken.  My baby is here because of me, because of the choice that I made for him.  I chose and now he suffers.

Within minutes the bandages were off and his skin wiped clean.  One by one each nurse and doctor disappeared and I was told by the last one that it would take a little while for my son to “come back” and that when he did, he may say things that don’t make any sense.  She dimmed the lights and I sat and waited for my son to come back to me.

After what felt like an eternity, we made eye contact and he seemed to be present.  I asked if he could hear me and he nodded.  He faintly whispered something.  I couldn’t hear him.  I asked him to repeat himself.  This time I heard him loud and clear.

“Are you a pig?” he asked.

“No, I’m not a pig.  I’m your mommy.”

“Oh.” he said.

I nervously giggled.

A few minutes later I hear his sweet little voice again.

“Mom?”

“Yes honey.”

“I don’t remember your name.”

At that very moment my heart was broken.  I told him my name and asked if he remembered his brother’s name and his father’s name, which he did.

He proceeded to ask me if we were in a race and rambled on about a few other things.  He slowly returned and we were discharged.

We ended up having to return twice more that week although they no longer sedated him.  He ended up with an infection and was prescribed an antibiotic.

Recovery was long, arduous and painful.  I told myself I would never subject my children to surgery ever again.

The year passed and I found myself agreeing to a different type of surgery for my other son.

The surgery was a few days ago and his recovery seems to be going well.  I was preparing for much worse and am so thankful that he is healing properly.

What tough jobs we have as mothers.  These precious little lives are in our hands.  The decisions we make for our children can be life altering and are usually done without their consent.  I guess all we can do is follow our hearts and do what we think is best on a case by case basis.  After all, mothers know best, right?

The Day I Became a Mom

“What should I blog about today, boys?”

“Write about when I was born!”, said my oldest.

………………………………………..

On the morning of my due date, I awoke with contractions.  I was unsure during the first few if they were the real deal but I shortly realized that what I had been reading about for months was finally happening.  As my uterus tightened I thought, “Oh my God!  This is it!”.

I let hubby know and together we started timing them.  He called work and told them he wouldn’t make it in that day, “We are having our baby!” he said beaming with pride.

As the hours passed, my log sheets filled up with numbers and the blank spaces slowly disappeared.  By the twelfth hour we thought we should make our way to the hospital.  I had heard so many stories of women getting sent back home for not being dilated enough, but at this point I was ready for a change in scenery.  We arrived at the hospital shortly after 7pm.

To my surprise, I was 2 centimetres dilated and the hospital admitted me.  “So, it’s really happening?”, I asked the nurse.  “It’s really happening.”, she said.

My husband asked how long it would take.  At that moment, we completely ignored the part where she warned that it varies from person to person and focused only on her point that “on average” it was about an hour per centimetre of dilation.

We should have known that “on average” wouldn’t apply to me.  My pregnancy was anything but average.  My uterus always measured 4 weeks ahead and I was constantly asked if I was carrying twins.  I even had to have a few ultrasounds towards the end of my pregnancy to check my amniotic fluid levels.

pregnant_belly
25 weeks along

So, when my husband heard the nurse say an hour per centimetre, he happily called our parents and told them the baby would be born by 3am. (Ha!)

I told my husband I was ready and he knew that I was completely against having any pain medication.

“I am doing this the natural way”, I said.  “Mind over matter”, I thought.

As the evening progressed into the wee hours of the morning, the pain intensified, as my patience and energy plummeted.  I tried everything.  The tub worked for a little.  With each contraction, hubby would place the shower head over my belly.  The pressure and the heat helped to ease the pain, but the longer I laboured, the less bearable it became.

“Let’s try going for a walk”, he suggested.

Back and forth, up and down; we roamed the hallways for what seemed like an eternity.  When the contraction came, I would grab hold of the railings across the hallway wall, crouch down and scream.

“I can’t possibly keep going!”, I cried.  “Yes, you can!”, he’d say.

At midnight the nurse checked me.  I was certain she would say I was nearing 10 centimetres.  How could I not?

“You’re about 3cms.”

“What?!” I yelled out.

I began feeling defeated.

At 7am, now 24 hours after my contractions began, 12 hours after we arrived at the hospital, and 4 hours after our son’s expected arrival time, my doctor appeared.

“You’re 5cms. I’m going to break your water and start you on some Pitocin.” he advised.  “It will help you progress.”

At this point I had been hoping for a higher number but I was starting to feel hopeful.

The nurse started an IV for the Pitocin and my movement was now limited but I was so exhausted I didn’t mind.

Not long after the Pitocin started kicking in, the contractions grew stronger and more frequent and closer together.

Like clockwork, the anesthesiologist  appeared at my door every hour.

“Are you sure you don’t want an epidural?”

“Yes, I’m sure”, I’d mutter.

I kept getting checked throughout the morning, only to consistently keep hearing, “5cms” over and over again.

Finally at 1pm as the nurse prepared to check me once more, I whispered to my husband, “If she tells me I’m 5cms, I don’t know what I’m going to do.  I’m going to lose it!”

I took a deep breath as she went in.

“You’re still 5cms, honey.”

“I can’t do this anymore!” I yelled.  “Give me the epidural!”

“Are you sure that’s what you want?” my husband asked.  “You’ve planned for so long to do this naturally.”

“Give me the epidural!”  I cried.

The nurse called the anesthesiologist and after a few nods and okays, she hung up the phone, looked at me and said, “Oh honey, he’s just out for a jog but shouldn’t be too long”.

Are you f*cking kidding me?  He’s been here every hour on the hour and now that I need his f*cking meds he’s out for a f*cking jog?  As you can imagine, I lost my mind!

By now, I had given up.  All the focus and breathing techniques I was practicing just minutes ago were gone forever and I started to panic.  The nurse gave me an oxygen mask and soon the anesthesiologist came to my rescue.

The original dose that they gave me didn’t freeze my entire belly so they gave me a little more.  The machine was showing contraction on top of contraction but now I was numb.

At 4pm the doctor checked me again.  Guess how many centimetres I was!  Go ahead, guess! 5?  You got it!  After 33 hours of labour I was still only 5 cms dilated and the natural child birth I had been hoping for came to a crashing halt as they prepped me for a c-section.

As they wheeled me to the O.R. we passed by the waiting room where our parents and siblings eagerly awaited the birth of their first grandson and nephew.  My eyes filled with tears and I just wanted this to be over.  Give me my little boy!

In the O.R. the lights were bright, the air cold, and the room filled with doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists.  They pumped me with more epidural.

“Are you going to make sure I can’t feel anything before you slice me open?”  I nervously asked.

“What do you feel?” the doctor asked as he rubbed something along my skin.

“It’s pretty hot”, I said.

“Good!  It’s supposed to be ice cold.”, he replied. “You’re ready!”

Hubby walked in dressed in scrubs and sporting a hair net and a mask.  Looking sexier than ever, he took his seat next to me.

My arms were shaking uncontrollably due to the epidural.  I was shivering and although I was getting cut open all I could think about was how I was about to meet my son.  I had waited my whole life for this moment.

I hear a cry.  “Is that him?” I yelled.

I looked up and the doctor slowly raised him up over the blue sheet.

He was swollen and bluish and beautiful and within seconds started peeing in the air.

When they handed him to me I was afraid to hold him.  My arms were still shaking and I feared I would drop him.  They assured me I wouldn’t.  As I peered into his eyes I couldn’t believe this moment had finally come. He was so worth the wait!

“Hello, little man.  I’m your mommy.”

Unfortunately, because I had been pumped with so many drugs throughout the day, the few hours that proceeded were all a blur and I am thankful for the pictures that I have as I sadly can’t rely on memory to relive those first few hours of his life.

That night, I lie awake in my bed, baby in his bassinet to my left, hubby sleeping on a chair to my right.  Behind a curtain across from me a newborn screamed as his mother tried comforting him.  The lights in the room were bright and every time a nurse would walk through the hallway door, it would loudly “ding”.

I couldn’t take my eyes off my son.  Every movement, every sound had me captivated.  I thought to myself, “I will never sleep again.”.  Time proved I wasn’t entirely wrong.

 

Back to School

Ah!  Those 3 magical words!  Back to school.  I love everything about this time.  I loved it as a student and I love it now as a parent.

My love for this begins with back to school shopping.  While dragging my kids through the mall, I spent a whole day in paradise buying a new wardrobe for the oldest (the youngest gets hand-me-downs for life).  I picked each piece of clothing with such love and consideration.  My son on the other hand cried real tears when I took him to one last store to try on a few hoodies.  “Why don’t the boys love this as much as me?”, I wondered.

And back to school shopping wouldn’t be complete without that never ending supply list.  It sure adds up when you’re buying for two.

Duotangs, check!back_to_school
Erasers, check!
$20 worth of glue sticks, check!  (No joke, I had to buy 10 of them!)

I spent last night labelling their belongings and packing their supplies into their bags.  I took extra care in making their lunch.  I added a few extra snacks and a note to let them know I’d be thinking of them.

We woke up a little early today as I wanted to make sure to get their “first day of school” pictures outside the front door.  This has become an annual tradition in our home, along with many other households as can be witnessed each year on my Facebook feed.

I drove them to school and reminded them multiple times to take the bus in the afternoon.  I told them how much I loved them and how proud of them I am and that I hope they have fun and learn awesome, new things.  Before I knew it we were at the school.  They gave me a quick kiss and then they were gone.

In all honesty, I’m a tad envious of my children.  I wish I could have stayed with them all day as they got to experience the countless joys of everything that makes the first day of school so wondrous.  Seeing friends they haven’t seen all summer; The anticipated moment of finding out who their teachers will be;  Sitting at their new desk for the first time and organizing all of their new school supplies;  I could really go on and on.

I spent all day at work eagerly awaiting dinner time so that I could ask them all about their day.  I was so excited I decided instead of wasting time cooking I would just grab some take out so that I could relish as many moments as I could with my kids.

I rushed home with take out bags in hand.  I opened the door and called out, “Boys, I’m home! Come tell me all about your day!”

“Ugh, do I have to?”, the younger one yelled from the basement.

Clearly he had no idea just how much I had been waiting for this moment.  After rounding up the crew and sitting for dinner I began the interrogation.

“How was your day?” I asked.

“Good.” they answered.

“Did you have fun?”

“Yes.”

I quickly learned these questions were getting me nowhere.

I literally had to ask the exact questions for which I wanted answers.  After a good half hour, I got all my questions answered and then some.  The boys began sharing more and more and before I knew it, my mission was accomplished.  They both had a great first day and are both looking forward to the year ahead.

Do you get the same one word answers from your kids?  If so, try some of these questions to open up dialogue and to find out how your little one spent their day!

-How did you feel when you first got to school?

-What did you like most about your teacher?

-What made you really happy today?

-What made you laugh today?

-How did you feel when you left school?

-What are you looking forward to the most this year?

-How can mommy help to make this a great year for you?

**Cheers to a great school year, folks!**

 

 

They Won’t Be Babies Forever

When I dreamed of becoming a mother, I gave very little thought to what life would be like after the baby phase.  In fact, any time I envisioned myself as a mother, it was always to a little baby.  How foolish.  Did I not consider that these babies would grow up?

I imagined a quiet life, rocking my little one to sleep on the porch as I watched the sunset.  My dream was picture perfect, reality on the other hand proved to be quite different.  Those sweet moments that I imagined would last forever were gone in a flash.

They weren’t babies for long.  They soon learned to crawl and to walk and to destroy everything in their paths.  My home, once my oasis, had now become their playground.  My furniture rearranged to keep them from pulling the curtains and from climbing the television stand and my decor boxed up and replaced with alphabet blocks and stuffed monkeys.  Cheerios could be found in every room of the house, as could sippy cups and tiny plastic spoons.  I had to be careful to not step on little cars and try to avoid kicking the potty which resided on the living room floor most days.  I lived in chaos, total & utter chaos.  This I certainly hadn’t imagined but what I also hadn’t imagined was just how much I would love these little people and how little this “mess” would bother me.  It became our reality, it became my day-to-day life.

As the months and years passed, I slowly got my house back.  Piece by piece we said goodbye to the play pen & the high chair, to the vibrating seats and the musical swing.  Cribs turned into big boy beds and mountains of stuffed monkeys turned into piles of Pokemon cards.

One day I looked around and it was all gone.  The world I thought I would live in forever had changed.

I can’t deny that I miss those sweet moments with my innocent boys as they explored their way into the world but I do love the stage they are in today.  They are now young men, developing their own personalities and preferences.  They are independent and responsible.  We can have intelligent conversations and they are capable of making rational decisions.  How did we get here so fast?

I have learned that parenting is an ever-changing experience, a constant transition into new and different phases.  As my children grow, so do I.  As my children learn, so do I.  I am not the same mother today that I was last year because my children aren’t the same people that they were last year.  I must progress with them, we must evolve together.

In a few years, the life that has now become all I know will once again be gone and I will have to adjust to my new role as a mother to teenage boys.  The struggles will be different and the territory unknown, but I will venture through, just as I have in the past.  What a beautiful journey.

Mothers Need Their Own Time Too

It’s the little things that bring me joy.  Getting to catch up on my favourite television show while indulging in a little treat while the kids snooze off to dream land.  It is a much needed indulgence.  My opportunity to let go of stress from the past day and to refuel for the next.

Oftentimes, we as mothers may feel guilty when we make time for ourselves.  Why is that?  It is crucial to let go of this guilt and to allow ourselves this time.

A happy, well-balanced woman makes for a happy, well-functioning mother.  We all need a little more time to ourselves.  Time to relax, time to have fun, time to do things we no longer do on a normal basis.  Why should we feel or be made to feel guilty of this basic, human need?

The moment I became a mother I thought that my life was now my son’s life.  I was willing and thought it was right to dedicate my whole life, my whole future to him, to his nurturing, to his growth, to his well-being.  I stopped doing things for myself, I stopped going places I didn’t think were fit of a new mom.  I missed my best friend’s bachelorette trip because I just couldn’t leave my son.  I was his mother, he needed me.  It took a good couple of years for me to recognize that this was unhealthy and not natural at all.  I realized I needed time for me too, and my son could totally use a break from his overprotective mama!  I needed to find the right balance between being a mother, being a wife, and being my own person.

I still struggle with this sometimes, but I have gotten much, much better at it.  Like now for example, instead of folding towels, I’m watching the tube & scarfing down ice cream.  Laundry can wait.

Little Man, Big Tree. Time to Ponder, Air to Breathe.

I sometimes forget that my son is more than just my little boy; he is his own person, a man in the making.  He was upset at us today because he didn’t get to go where he wanted to go.  He was so upset that he refused to interact with us and said he wanted to be left alone.  My first instinct was to force him to be with us and to pretend to be happy.  I couldn’t possibly allow him to indulge in such an act.  I refuse to raise a spoiled brat. But when I saw him sitting on that bench, looking around, I realized he is a human being, a person with feelings, just like me, just like his dad and just like everyone else in this world.

20160523_201744_edited-1He is entitled to his feelings, he is allowed to be angry and I shouldn’t make him suppress that.

I decided to let him be, to have his time to himself.  He wasn’t hurting himself or anyone else (aside from my feelings).

He is no different than me.  I get angry too, more than I’d like to admit.  Instead of telling him to not be angry, I need to teach him how to manage his anger and how to deal with it as he grows.

I want my children to know how to handle their emotions; not be disciplined for having them.

Allowing him his alone time today was tough at first but I am confident it was the right choice.  It gave him time to think and to feel and it gave me a moment of clarity…and a great photo op!