Put today in the loss column

I try hard to focus on the positive, the joyful and the thoughtful. I attempt to shift my mental space from the whining (which is easy and natural) to the rejoicing. I have read that rehearsing a litany of wrongs makes you an angrier person, whereas choosing not to do so and not to practice your anger makes you actually happier. I believe this to be true. I suspect, since this is the venue where I do much of my intellectual and emotional processing, that this leads to a rather Polyanna-ish blog of my life. (Although it’s worth reminding you that Polyanna’s optimism worked!)

Anyway, that’s a long and meta intro to say that today? I’m not up to it. I can’t even tell you what exactly happened to make today one to be forgotten. It started ok — I got to sleep in until a near pre-kids hour due to an amazing and loving husband. But Thane is at such a stage. He’s not bad, not at all, but he’s demanding. I probably hauled him up onto the couch 45 times today. He wants things that are beyond his capabilities. He doesn’t really believe that I mean it when I say no. He hits his head on things apparently recreationally. And when thwarted, he throws a back-bending, writhing fit. He is, in short, 15 months old. (Aside: it’s AMAZING just how much progress he’s made verbally since the ear tube surgery. It’s VASTLY different. In the what, week? I swear his vocabulary has doubled. He OBVIOUSLY wasn’t hearing well before and now he’s parroting EVERYTHING. It’s pretty awesome.)

Grey? Well, he’s his own version of demanding. He bounces back between super-capable and frankly lazy and demanding. (AKA: four years old) He and I had a little friction this morning, which I suspect was at least equally due to me being cranky for no good reason. Then, aikido. Oh, he’s been doing so WELL. He knows the names of the techniques. His focus is amazing. He’s energetic. He listens and does well. But today we had an EPIC MELTDOWN.

I’ve always read that you should be very honest and true to your word with your children, and I have tried to be. (I think integrity is important, and I think it’s learned by example.) So if, for example, I promise him he can be excused if he has three bites, he gets excused when he has three bites — not four. I’m starting to wonder if this sets up an unrealistic expectation. Today, he wasn’t doing his rolls properly, and he’s getting far enough along that he needs to learn how to do them right, not his way. The person he was working on (lucky enough to get one on one time!) asked him to do it once more. He did it. Then the person said (apparently) “Again!”. And Grey stormed off the mat in high dudgeon and did not stop crying for about 15 minutes. It took me about 2 hours to get him calm enough to tell me what went on. And what a two hours. I had to carry him out of the dojo. He hit me. He’s getting strong and big — it hurts. I still don’t know what to do when your child hits you and you have to (for example) get out of the dojo and get home. You’d be amazed at how quickly your back-brain steps in when someone, even your own beloved child, hits you in the mouth. (For the record what I did do was pin his hands to get him in the car, not give him his DS, go straight home instead of to our usual post-aikido treat, and send him to his room for the next hour and a half or so.)

We all stumbled our way, grumpy, through the remainder of the evening. We put the boys to bed about an hour and half early, based on their completely exhausted behavior. And then, Grey started throwing up. He threw up while asleep. Now he throws up all the time, but this was something special. (I think the difference is that he usually throws up because of his gag reflex, so he has plenty of time and warning. This was not so tonight. I think this was actual nausea.)

So here I am, bedraggled and patience in rags. What should’ve been a joyful family Saturday was more of an ordeal. I don’t think I was my best self. Worse, I don’t think I discovered in any of this a lesson I could learn or trick I could apply instead next time — no silver lining or lemonade here.

Just the promise that tomorrow is another day.

Post surgery update

Some times of life are just more action packed than others. The last 2 days for me, for example, have been a bit more intense than normal! I did want to make sure to update everyone that Thane’s ear tube surgery went perfectly this morning and he’s now happily playing on the floor. Holding him down so they could sedate him was hard, and then watching him go still. He was terribly upset after waking up (probably because he hadn’t had breakfast yet and he had missed his nap as much as anything else). But we’re all well here now!

In his scrubs, waiting his turn
In his scrubs, waiting his turn

Looking chipper after his post-surgery nap and lunch
Looking chipper after his post-surgery nap and lunch

A quick update on ear-related issues

At 8:40 am on a bitterly cold January morning in New England, I bundled my 14 month old into his winter gear – with practiced negotiation passing the beloved cars from one hand to the other. Our journey was short – maybe a quarter of a mile. If it hadn’t been 15 degrees and windy with snow-covered sidewalks, I would’ve walked. Even 25 degrees and moderately clear sidewalks. But no.

I wrestled him out of the car and into the clinic. I think that until he can walk, I need to leave the coffee cup at home. If you know me, you know how much it PAINS ME to admit that there is ever a circumstance before noon that I might be parted from my beloved beverage. But 30 pound squirmy 14 month old makes it unusually challenging to keep my coffee upright.

I digress.

Thane was actually lovely in the waiting room. He played with his cars on the table “Vroom vroom!”. He lost a car behind a chair, managed to reclaim it, but was unable to extricate himself. I did not laugh, but politely extracted him. The ubiquitous office ladies with perfect manicures were unable to find our referral. I suspect this has to do with the fact it was submitted on one of those new-fangled computer thingies. My pediatrician verified that the information had been submitted and accepted, so I’m unconcerned. He has an iPhone and a brand new computer system and enough savvy to go around.

Then we went to wait in the office, and this was less lovely. The number of exciting things at boy-height made it imperative to keep him off the ground. Thane does not like to be kept off the ground. I contemplated the brightly lit “on” switch for the auto-clave and the child safety covers on the power strips and decided that someone around here wasn’t aware of just what would attract a 14 month old’s eye.

The doctor came in a very long 10 minutes later. Thane’s tonsils were pronounced “tiny”. (I think that’s good.) He looked in both ears. Shocking, he found fluid in both ears. (Duh!) He recommended surgery for ear tubes. He said that we’d schedule in 3 to 4 weeks for Boston. Done! I spent more time doing the exiting procedures than we’d spent in the exam.

And there it is. Sometime before Valentine’s Day, Thane will likely go into Boston for a very quick surgery. Apparently children are only “out” for about 10 minutes. They cut a tiny hole in the outer skin of the ear drum, vacuum up the offending liquid and insert a little tube to prevent the cut from healing over. Sometime in the next 6 – 18 months the tube will fall out of it’s own accord. The procedure is meant to help prevent ear infections (by preventing the buildup of fluid) until his face lengthens and the Eustachian tubes start going down instead of straight across.

I hope that this will make Thane slightly happier. Where he is right now, he can be a delight but… I am unwilling to take him anywhere. Dinner out is disastrous. The library was extremely hard to manage. He bolts, he pulls things off, he has a very firm idea of what he wants to accomplish and if thwarted will pitch a fit. He’s ok in the safety of our own home, or in any area where it’s acceptable to put him down and let him wander. Most of the time. Except last night, where he was 100% crying if he wasn’t being held and only 30% crying as long as I had him on my hip. Not Daddy. Not Emily. Mommy.

On the other hand, he is absolutely adorable. You should hear him say “cheese”! It’s awesome.

It’s official: chronic ear infection

The face of a sick Thane
The face of a sick Thane

My dominant impression of my youngest’s health is that he’s healthy as an ox. (Also, he weighs as much as an ox, but that’s a separate complaint.) I don’t think I’ve taken a sick day for him yet (knocks on wood). But each time I brought him in for his well-baby appointments after about 6 months, he’d fail the ear check (it seems). I’d go fill the prescription, dose him with Amox-Clav and not pay too much attention. He’d get really fussy. I’d bring him in. His ears would have fluid. We’d recheck. His ears would have fluid.

But this never has seemed to BOTHER him much. Even Thane fussy is a sweet, fun little kid.

But. But but.

The 102.8 on Christmas Eve was a scary high fever, especially since I wasn’t sure of the direction. He stayed hot all through Christmas, before slowly cooling off. And then the crying jags. For 20 minutes he’d scream and writhe and scream and scream and scream. It was horrible. I’d be about ready to scream too. And then he’d notice his favorite toy: a milk jug. Or he’d just suddenly settle. (Of course, many of the screaming jags were punctuated by a dose of Tylenol, which let’s just all admit here and now, Tylenol is a wonder drug.) And he’d pull his ear.

By Christmas, I was pretty sure what was up. Two days after finishing antibiotics for an ear infection which had already drawn the “if this doesn’t clear this up I’m calling it chronic” warning from our pediatrician? No other symptoms? Ear pulling? It didn’t take a genius to figure this one out.

I begged the on call pediatrician for anesthetic eardrops, and waited nearly an hour in Walgreens while they attempted to figure out how to get them to me. And this morning bright and early Thane and his father went to see his doctor to verify our suspicions.

Thane is now on his last-ditch antibiotics and we’re supposed to be lining up surgery for him for ear tubes. Surgery. As in “general anesthetic” and “fasting”. For my baby. Oof.

So, in my role as “mom” I’m spending today fretting. Examples of my frets include:

  • Is my son’s hearing and verbal development compromised by his constant ear infections? Is THIS why he refuses to say nose? (I doubt it. Did I mention he said “Duck” and “Quack quack” yesterday? And that when I asked him what a duck said, he said “Quack quack”? But only when I can hear him.)
  • Seriously, surgery?
  • Doesn’t this mean he’ll have to wear ear plugs whenever he goes swimming?
  • And general anesthetic?
  • What sort of problems will we encounter due to the sheer volume of Amox-Clav the child has consumed? (He loves it!)
  • Has my son been hurting for months and I’ve done too little to help, lulled by his general good nature?
  • And how cool is it that Mass Eye and Ear is a very short walk from my house?
  • Answer: Cool. But surgery is uncool.
  • Oh, my sweet Thane. I’m sorry you spent your second Christmas hurting. I’m sorry that you might have to have surgery. I’m sorry, kiddo. I hope that in future years you’re shocked to learn this was ever an issue.