Saturday, September 21, 2013

Samantha's TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) was too high last month. It always seems to coincide with school. Her brain takes a rest over the summer and just as soon as school starts the brain starts begging for more.  This pattern started around Kindergarten so I know to get a blood test around the first weeks of school. (Thank goodness for standing lab orders.)

Around this same time I charted both kids heights. Alyssa grew almost an inch since the first of May. Samantha did not grow by height or weight in that same time period. The rest of her friends all had growth spurts.

Prior to last month's labs Samantha was on an alternating dose of synthroid. So instead of just jumping to the next, bigger dose I asked the pediatric endocrinologist if we could just go the same, higher dose every day and drop the low, alternating dose. The ped. endo. wasn't sure that that would be enough, but said that we could try that and then retest in a month.

So yesterday, I received the labs and that simple change has leveled her out perfectly. I still need to watch her growth closely and the doctors are expecting that she'll start showing some growth soon.

Looking back, I did notice that she was sleeping a lot more. It's hard to know if it's being tired from school and a new routine or if it's thyroid-related.

In my mind we still aren't out of the woods until she shows some growth. For now, we'll watch and chart. And if I have any inkling that things are off then we'll head back to the lab.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Samantha had her 8-year well visit check today. I sat in the waiting room beforehand filling out the general "well-visit" questionnaire, for lack of a better term. I was checking off the discussion points I'd like to have with the doctor:

  • anger
  • behavior
  • development
  • sibling issues
I'm sure you can see the pattern. I realize kids fight and siblings get in each other's face--I was the older kid, too. I just don't remember spewing so much venom and hate--maybe it's because we were the opposite sex. I can feel Alyssa's hurt and it bothers me. 

Just yesterday Samantha mumbled that she wished she was an only child. My issue was that Alyssa simply climbed into the car for school, unprovoked. And it's like this most days. I'm sure it's all normal, but my parenting brain is telling me to find a way to calm Samantha, to guide her in the right direction. 

When we were in the exam room the doctor came in and talked about what makes Samantha happy and what makes her angry. And instead of looking away, Samantha looked him in the eye and told him about how she gets angry and how sissy doesn't give her space. And the doctor talked about negotiating with Alyssa rather than just slamming a door in her face. They had a hypothetical conversation about how Samantha could say, please give me some space now and in an hour I'll color with you. He asked her how she'd fell if the tables were turned. 

I sat back the entire conversation and said nothing. I watched Samantha, suddenly very grown up, discussing her feelings and emotions with the doctor. And she understood what he was saying and later told me that she'd give his methods a shot. 

I came out feeling very encouraged and amazed at this child sitting across from me. Lately all the frustration with sibling rivalry and dealing with hurt feelings has been overwhelming and consuming. I've failed to see this child in front of me growing and changing, trying to keep up with the changes inside her and around her. 

Today, thanks to our wonderful and encouraging doctor, I was able to take a breath, step back and see this amazing child I helped create. She's thoughtful, curious, and very articulate. And I'm so proud of my Bug.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Technology is one of those perplexing dilemmas--on one hand it's changed our lives and on the other I remember life before cell phones and computers. It's the reason I'm in braces from my hands to my elbows and at the same time it's the excitement in my kindergartner's face as she talks about her second computer class.

Alyssa is understanding computers for the first time. She's attempted it a few times but the hand-eye coordination wasn't developed enough to comprehend the intricacies. So she'd retreat to the IPAD. This year it is a regular part of her curriculum, but I have mixed emotions.

Part of the reason we chose to put our girls in private school is because there wasn't funding for so many things in public school: library, PE, technology; not to mention class size, but that is for another post. We were excited when Samantha had computers two days a week--this year third grade is learning to keyboard. Awesome sauce! (as Samantha says).

Coming from an assessment background, the keyboarding thing is a big deal. That will help place my daughter on the right track for the Common Core State Standards technology requirements. On the other hand, when my girls ask for computer time and their swing set becomes a decoration, I worry.

As a child, I spent every minute I could outside. And I try to do the same with my girls. Some days I make them stay outside until I say they can come in. I want them to really play. I want them to use their imaginations and explore.

I understand the importance of technology and I also recognize the pitfalls. I, for one, am so attached to mouse and keyboard for my job that I'm going on a year with severe hand and elbow injuries. I can only write posts when I am feeling good, which isn't often lately.

Technology, for lack of a better word, has taken away my time from my family. I can't go camping. I can't play Legos or color pictures most days. And every night after I put my kids to bed I spend two hours with my arms covered in ice, and then put back on my braces to sleep.

As I listen to Alyssa's excitement about her first experience on the computer, I find myself wishing that  technology wasn't such an important aspect of our lives. I dream of ways to minimize it. And to groans and eye rolling, I keep saying, "No computer today," and wonder how many other parents have the same internal struggle.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Earlier this week, Ginger, aka The Cat!, was being her normal self and ripping around the house. I had to get up from desk several times to see what she was getting into and making sure she didn't eat the Lego village on the dining room table. Then it got quiet and I thought maybe she'd worn herself out.

After about half an hour I hear the sounds of a box tearing so I get up to investigate. I poke my head into the girls' bathroom to find the cat sitting on the counter, both paws in the Kleenex box, pulling out each sheet of tissue. After I scold her, she runs out. I'm left with a pile of tissue all over the counter and toilet seat. Then I notice the toilet paper has been rolled off the roll and left in a pile on the floor. Oh Cat!

I had to laugh and then I felt a bit guilty. All these months, I'd been blaming my kids for the odd piles of Kleenex and toilet paper pooled on the floor. I rolled my eyes, would mutter under my breath, and say, "Really?! You two are too old to be playing with toilet paper;" to which both would blame the other.

So to my girls I say, "I'm sorry. The Cat! did it and I've been blaming you."

After all Ginger's antics, we've realized why someone gave her up for adoption. She's a full-time cat, she needs discipline, attention, and an incredible amount of love. I've never met a cat that got into so much trouble--a cat who thinks it's fun to open drawers, pull out all the towels and napkins and then walk away.

And I wouldn't trade her for the world.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Alyssa was anxious to start a full day of Kindergarten after Labor Day. I was surprised, however, that she found it "boring." She has been asking to go to school full time since she was 3 and now that we're here she's not so enthused.

After school, the Friday after Labor Day, she started sobbing before she even got her seat belt on. She decided that she didn't want to go to school anymore. She wanted to stay home with me.

I remember this happening with Samantha. This half- to full-day school is a huge conflict for a child. And it's not just mine, I've noticed it happening with other kids in her class as well. They're realizing that they're expected to grow up just a bit and that means more freedom from mom and dad. They're conflicted because on one hand they want to be treated as big kids, but on the flip they're afraid of what it means.

Alyssa has been worrying all summer about learning to read. She keeps telling me she doesn't know how to do it--not that I expect her to read yet--and that she won't be able to do it. I keep reassuring her that part of being in Kindergarten is learning to read and that is okay, I am not going to stop reading to her just because she can read. I promised that bedtime stories will continue.

I'm selfish. Sometimes I want nothing more than my two pajama-clad girls on each side with their baby dolls in hand listening to me read aloud. That isn't going away, but reassuring Alyssa is another thing.

So through the gasping sobs that consumed most of my Friday afternoon, she admitted that she misses coming home after school, eating lunch alone with mommy, and playing dress up all afternoon.

For as long as she'll let me I will hold her close and let her be that baby a little longer. It won't be long before she doesn't want me to walk her to class or read her bedtime stories.

Monday, September 9, 2013

This last week Samantha had her endoscopy and an adenoidectomy. I was anxious but tried desperately not to show it. And we made it through fine.

Samantha woke at 3:45 a.m. the day of because she was anxious and excited. She was ready to get it over with. We left after 5 and headed to CHOMP before the sun was up.

Samantha was very relaxed pre-op and met all her doctors and nurses. She was excited that she got to take her lovey, Baby Sister, with her in the operating room. And I was so pleased that the nurses and doctors would accommodate that--I'm sure it helped her feel calm.

The endoscopy took only 15 minutes and the pediatric gastroenterologist was pleasantly surprised. Despite all of Samantha's GERD issues, her esophagus and stomach looked perfect. There was a little redness near the opening to the intestines at the bottom of the stomach. He took a biopsy of that part of her stomach to check for gastritis and celiac disease. Anatomically, however, she was perfect.

About 25 minutes later the ENT came out to talk about how the adenoidectomy had gone. He was very surprised by what he found. Behind Samantha's adenoids there was a pocket of bacteria that was not visible when he looked up her nose with a camera previously. The ENT asked if she'd been having a goopy nose, to which my response was "No. Her nose hasn't been running." Typically people don't have pockets like she did, but the adenoidectomy took care of it. He did have to suction out the bacteria and do a saline rinse three times each, so she was a little more banged up than expected.

The recovery was a little rough. The gas and oxygen cause a dry throat along with both procedures, so there is a lot of crying and hacking/coughing. CHOMP nurses were great. They had me get in bed next to Samantha to calm her down and soothe her. I rubbed her back and legs, kept her from pulling out the catheter in her hand, and fed her ice. I don't know exactly how long I was in the bed next to her (not very comfortable), but she slept a bit and ready to get back home.

Both doctors are hoping that these procedures will help eliminate her post-nasal drip problems and thereby not activate the acid receptors in the esophagus/stomach. Samantha wants to know if she can finally stop Prevacid for good--I sure hope so. We meet with both doctors in a month to see how things have improved.

I'm hoping that the good review of the stomach means that we can totally bypass the PH probe, which would require a probe into her lungs for 24-hours to measure the reflux/acid. That wouldn't be fun.

For now she's still recovering. The sore throat has improved and she's starting to come back to her former self. She'll be ready for school come Monday.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Last weekend the girls had a ballet assessment to determine if they could move up to the next level. Alyssa we knew was ready to move, but I was on the the fence about Samantha.

The assessment came and Samantha wasn't as polished. She kept looking to the person next to her to see if she was doing it right. It was hard as a parent to watch her knowing that she wasn't feeling confident inside. I've been trying to work with her and let her know that she knows what to do, she just needs to recognize that it's inside her--she doesn't need to look to someone else.

Before this year's recital, I worked on her; reminded her that she needed to show that she was confident and prepared and not watch the dancer next to her. And when we made it to recital, that confidence was apparent and she danced really well.

During that assessment all the uncertainty came back. And when the board with the class list came out and her name wasn't on the Ballet 3 list, she was devastated. She sobbed for two hours and tried to shut herself in her room.

I gently tried to explain that she needed to show that she was confident, that she knew how dance. Inside, I wanted to hold her in my arms and cry too. I was devastated for her--I didn't want her to be so hard on herself, but I needed to be the rock.

So today she started back in her old ballet class with a smile on her face and ready to work on those few things so that she could move up. It'll come . . .