March 30, 2012

End of the Month Controversy- Vaccinations

Influenze outbreak
From Brittanica online
Vaccinations have been on my mind quite a bit lately.

First of all, there's the fact that I'm getting DD and SI enrolled in pre-school for the fall, and that means... vaccination records.  And the fact that next week they have their two and a half year well check up, at which they're scheduled for Hep B shots.

And then there's the ongoing birth control debate going on around the country.  And frankly, I think these two issues are related.

Allow me to explain.

There are a lot of things that are going unspoken by the (mostly) men who are arguing against birth control.  And they're the same sort of (mostly) unspoken things that, reading or listening between the lines, you hear from people who don't believe in vaccinating their children.

"Nobody dies from pregnancy or childbirth."

From the CDC
You hear these politicians talking about how rare it is that a pregnancy *really* jeopardizes the health of the mother.  And yet...

Over the last decade, the maternal mortality rate in the United states has doubled.  DOUBLED.

There are probably a lot of reasons for this, from inadequate prenatal care to the rising rate of c-sections.  But that doesn't change the fact that, yeah, women die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth.  And twice as many American women are doing it as they did ten years ago.

Which brings me back to vaccinations.  I personally know several mothers who don't vaccinate their kids because, "Nobody dies of the measles."

Educated women.  Empowered women.  Women of my age, with many of the same life experiences that I have.

The children of my generation were pretty much all vaccinated.  I never had the experience of losing a classmate or a sibling to a preventable disease.  I never knew a child who was effected by polio.  I never even heard stories about, "a friend of a friend of my cousin's neighbor" who had a baby brother or sister that died of whooping cough.

And so for mothers of my generation in particular, vaccination can seem... unnecessary.  Why give my children shots- shots that will hurt them- so that they won't ever get a thing that just isn't a big deal anymore anyway?

And then there's the belief that vaccinations are linked to Autism.  Beliefs caused by a scam artist who has since recanted his so-called research, but who's claims traveled far and wide.

And then there's the fear of side effects.

And then there's the issue of what the hell is in this shot anyway?

Vaccinating is a hard decision to make.  It's impossible to be 100% informed with a simple layman's pharmacological vocabulary.  It's hard not to be scared at the idea that you're intentionally putting something that you know to be harmful into your child's body.  It's hard not to feel guilty about causing your child pain by stabbing them with a needle.  It's hard not to feel vicarious terror at the idea of being stabbed by a needle yourself.  Needles are scary.

I still firmly believe that it's the right thing to do.

I believe that because there is a reason that nobody I know died from polio, or measles.

There's a reason that I look at adults with shingles and cringe at the idea of that ever being me or my child.

I have been so fortunate to grow up in a society that has come so close to eradicating these diseases.  But they're not gone.  And there are important lessons about disease that we can learn from history.

Like that a society that has never been exposed to a disease is more likely to be utterly decimated by that disease if they ever cross paths.  (Think Native Americans and smallpox.  Or European colonizers in South America and Yellow Fever.)

That it is easier to keep children alive when "common childhood illnesses" don't include measles, scarlet fever, or mumps.  Or smallpox.

These are all diseases that we don't have to have.  That we don't have to worry about dying from.  And that's because of vaccination.

Name that disease
Photo from Brittanica
When the girls' pediatrician first approached me about the chicken pox vaccine, I laughed and said, "I'll think about it."  After all, I had the chicken pox as a kid.  My sisters had it.  Everyone I knew had it.  And we were all fine.  I called my mother and I told her, "This vaccination thing is getting totally out of hand. Do you know they're vaccinating against chicken pox?!"

And she told me about how when she was a child her baby brother had nearly died of chicken pox.  How many children actually did.  And then she told me why so many parents back in my childhood would try so hard to get their kids infected by other kids.  It's because if you get chicken pox as an adult, it's 20 times more likely to kill you- and it never goes away.  You have shingles for the rest of your life.

I did a little research, and I learned that chicken pox related deaths have gone down 88% since the introduction of the vaccine.  And that is a staggering figure for less than two decades of work.

So yes, my children got that shot, too.

I'm going to be perfectly frank.  I hate getting my kids their shots.  I hate holding them down while a nurse stabs them with a series of large needles.  I hate listening to them scream and cry.  I hate that I am responsible for that.  I hate having to lie and tell them that it's not scary, when I know it's scary.  I hate pretending that I'm not scared.  I hate being complicit in their pain, when they simply cannot understand why on earth anyone would want to intentionally hurt them.

I would so much rather that I am occasionally responsible for that trauma than that they die.  For any reason.

If I could get them vaccinated against being hit by a truck, I would do it.  No matter how many injections it took.

When they're pre-teens, I'll be sure to get them vaccinated against HPV.  Because that's a whole category of cervical cancers that they won't get and need to be cured of.  Or die from.

Name that disease
Photo from NIH
If I could get them vaccinated against AIDS, you could bet your ass I'd do it in a heartbeat.  And thankfully, that day may be nearer than I previously believed.

It doesn't matter to me how unlikely it is that they'll be exposed to the measles, or to any other disease for that matter.

What it comes down to is that a case of the measles today is more dangerous that it was fifty years ago.  Not because the disease was more virulent.  Not because the medicine for treating it was better- it's better now.  What it comes down to is that fifty years ago, everybody knew what it looked like.

There's a fever.  There's a runny nose and a cough.  There's red, watery eyes.  That's before the rash shows up.  A rash I definitely couldn't identify on sight- to me the pictures of it look a lot like roseola.  With proper medical care, the mortality rate due to these former "common childhood ailments" is very, very low.  But there are other effects- measles can leave your child blind.  If you're pregnant, rubella can cause horrific defects in your baby.  Diphtheria can make your child fall into a coma.

And we've come so close to actually wiping out these diseases that I just simply wouldn't recognize them.  And neither, most likely, would their doctor.  She's probably never had a kid in her office with diphtheria.

I understand why many parents choose not to vaccinate.  Fear.

Fear of the side effects.

Fear of the pain.

Fear of the responsibility.

I share that fear.

Name that disease
Photo from Brittanica
My fear of my children dying from something preventable is simply greater than my fear of those other things.  Despite the fact that the vaccination is a certain source of pain, and the disease itself so much less certain.

What is certain is that I want to let my children play with other children, without worrying if those children have been to events like the Superbowl, where apparently you can pick up the measles.  Or if they've visited a country with less successful vaccination campaigns.

I want to let Grandmommy and Poppa play with their grandkids when they fly in from South Africa, or China, or any other corner of the globe, without wondering who they might have been exposed to at an airport or train station.

I want to take my children to visit other children, without fear that my children might be the ones spreading disease.

And yes, I'm afraid of making my children sick by giving them shots filled with toxic chemicals.

I am so much more frightened of rubella.  I am so much more frightened of my toddlers spreading pertussis to their new baby sister when she's here.

I'm not ignorant of the risks.  I know there are risks.  I know that every year, many children do die as a result of complications from vaccines.

I also know that the number of children who die from measles, mumps, rubella, polio, meningitis, and the flu is exponentially greater.

Name that disease
Google images
Do I hate myself for vaccinating my children?  While it's happening, yeah, I do.

But from the moment of their first watery post-shot smile onward, I am grateful.  There is so much to worry about as a parent.  There are so many dangers.  I absolutely cannot protect my children against all of them.

But I can protect my children against a growing list of diseases that could harm them- that could cause them permanent disability or death, or even just a few really awful weeks or months of illness.

I am afraid.  We are all afraid.  Parenting is terrifying.  But we all do the best that we can.  And I believe that the best that I can do includes vaccinating my children.

Note: I will not publish or respond to any comments attempting to link autism to vaccinations.  All of the studies that do so have been debunked, and I will not dignify those arguments by engaging on that topic.  All other respectful comments are welcome.

March 29, 2012

Stream of Barely Conscious-ness

SI helping out a little friend
I have been pretty tense lately.  Tense, tired, and incredibly introspective.

Today I found myself utterly exhausted, running through the various distractions one has at their disposal when one doesn't have the energy to take their children out.

As I zoned out, staring without focus towards the TV projecting "Follow That Bird" into the room, two things penetrated my incredibly sluggish mind.

Inside the tent
One was the nubbins of DD's pigtails, pushing through the purple wall of the tent I had erected in our living room to act as some sort of distraction.

The other was a shape moving and shifting, pushing against the purple fabric of my dress.

For a moment, I was struck with the profundity of it.

It was the same purple.

My daughters, giggling and playing some game I couldn't devote any attention to, there in the tent.

My baby, kicking and rolling inside of my belly.

For a moment, I was struck with the terror of it.

Another child.  Another baby.  Another little person in my life, when I had not the energy for even one at the moment.

Now, my children are playing peacefully without intervention.  Baby X continues to kick, experimentally it seems.

30 weeks
I am running out of time.

I have ten weeks before Baby X is here.

Really, I only have three weeks to get everything done.

This week, I prepare for Passover.

The next three weeks, I prepare the nursery and M prepares for his last finals.

And then I graduate- and my mother moves in until Baby X is here.  And then M graduates.  And then I start up my final, four week long class.

And four days after that class ends...

Baby X's due date.

I am running out of time.

The tent in the living room is filled with plastic and wooden and cloth food.

And with laughter.

It is purple.  The same purple as my dress.

There is another little girl in this purple hideaway.

Quiet mischief
There is more love coming into this house.  There is more to do.  There is so much to do.  There is so, so, so much to do.

Every minute, the toy food spreads across the house.

Every minute is another minute I don't have.

I am running out of time.

I am running out of energy.

I am running out.

I am afraid, and I am tired, and I have so much left to do.

And I am so eager to have all three of my little girls in the same tent.  Giggling, spreading their toys around the house, caring for each other while I stare blankly towards "Follow That Bird."

Somewhere, a toy blender has been left on- endlessly spinning purple bits of glitter into oblivion.

Baby X kicks against the purple cloth.

SI hands me a purple plastic eggplant.

With the sun shining, I see two purple silhouettes in a tent in my living room.

Every minute is another minute that I am not adequately savoring.  Every minute is work lost on my capstone project.  Every minute is a minute closer to our family growing larger again.

For a moment, I can't care.

I am the furthest thing in the world from tense, or nervous.

I am surrounded by the sweetest children I have ever known.

Children that I am too tired to force down for a nap.  Strange though that may sound.

And in my exhaustion it seems that my whole life is...

Purple.  And full to overflowing with love.

March of Summer (in haiku)

They might in fact actually be fairies.
While there were tornadoes ripping past my hometown and through the southern parts of my current state (Illinois, not blind panic), here in Chicago we had... summer.

That's right.  For the first half of March, it was downright balmy in the windy city.  We had eight straight days of record breaking highs.  And not just record breaking, record SHATTERING.  A week ago, it was ninety degrees.  In Chicago.  In March.

So what did I do with my kids?  I took them outside.

I kept wanting to turn on the sprinkler in the back yard, but... who knew how long it would last?  What if it froze again?  Not worth the trouble.  So the girls had to be satisfied with playing in the grass and the sun.

Oh, the horrors.

At any rate, I don't consider myself a particularly good photographer.  But I do love taking pictures of my children.  And they certainly make it easy.  So here, for your enjoyment, is my photo spam.  Captioned in haiku.

Because deficient though I usually am in the realm of photographing my children, I am a master of poetical brevity.

glowing in the dusk

my sweet queen of the back yard

surveying her realm

knows what I'm doing

forgetting about the fit

she threw over lunch
two angels in white

dirty knees, chestnut ringlets

sand between their toes
sunlight in her hair

she tires of me watching her
"mommy, I coming..."
always mommy's hats

too large, too great, too heavy

always mommy's heart

March 28, 2012

You're Going To Be Okay

Recently, I discovered a blog post by a lady calling herself Honest Mom.

It's about fighting depression.

I may have been the youngest goth
known to mankind.
As you might or might not know, I battled depression for a long time.  I still do, really.  I began to write a comment on her blog post, and I just found that I couldn't stop.  I just kept writing and writing and writing.  Before I published it, I paused.  Was it really okay to just sort of dump all of this on somebody?  And I decided the answer was 'yes.'  Because I wasn't just dumping this on anybody.  I was telling a story, and it was a story with a moral.  A good moral.

And so I share that comment here, with all of you, because I know how many people fight with depression in silence, feeling more isolated and helpless than people who have never experienced depression could possibly imagine.

I write this because, particularly as I find myself struggling occasionally with thoughts that I know are fundamentally depressive thoughts, that suicide is the fifth leading cause of death for pregnant women.

So pregnant mamas, PPD mamas, PPD daddies, and everyone else out there who has ever battled depression, I write this for you as well.


I totally understand.

I have battled depression for basically my whole life.  When I was about eight, I stopped sleeping.  Just... stopped.  Nobody has ever seemed really clear if the depression caused the insomnia, or vice versa, but in either case I found myself contemplating suicide before I was nine.  I attempted once, when I was fifteen.  It was a genuine attempt, and a miracle that it didn't succeed.  I kept fighting both the depression and the insomnia until I was in my twenties, when after a sexual assault I DID start sleeping, but had chronic and uncontrollable night terrors.

The only thing that helped was meeting my husband, who's presence in the bed keeps he night terrors away.  When he gets up in the night, or wakes up early in the morning, they come back.  Still.

That said, I'm doing a lot better.  Miraculously, I didn't have any problems with PPD... or at least, I don't think I did.  I think I had waves of depression that continued from the other waves of depression in my life.

But I can say this, after almost twenty years of fighting depression... it gets easier.  It really, truly does.
I can't tell you how long it takes for it to get easier.  In my case, it took about nine years.  It never truly went away, but it became... easier.

Dealing with depression is like dealing with losing a limb.  You have to relearn to function, and the more vital the limb or more profound the depression, the harder that is.  But it does get easier.  And then, one day, you realize that you're actually sort of kind of *happy*.  Inexplicably.  And that realization ruins it.  But then you have another one.  And another.

And then one day you catch yourself worrying about what would happen if you fell in front of that oncoming bus and died, and you think to yourself, "My god was THAT morbid," and it hits you that you've actually been pretty much happy for a long time.

So yes, I still battle my depression.  And sometimes, my insomnia.  I've been on and off a million meds (not one worked for me, and I flat out refused drugs that would be hard to quit if they didn't work (much to the chagrin of my shrinks)), and I've tried a million things to make it go away.

But there are only two things that I know make it go away even a little bit, and I can't vouch that they'd ever work for another person.  And those things are sleeping well, and finding a couple of diversions that actually get you out of your head a little.  Hard with kids, I know, but there are some.  With kids, one of my new ones is photography (not that I'm any good), and one of my old ones that sticks with me is reading comic books.

I can't imagine how difficult it must be to learn to live with depression while you're learning to live as a mom.  I can't imagine how hard it must be to believe that the thing that is making you depressed is something that you love and absolutely cannot quit.

I recommend that you stop thinking about "what is making you depressed," ever.  Because it doesn't matter what is MAKING you depressed, what matters is how you DEAL with it.  And it seems to me, having only just discovered that you exist, that you're doing a pretty good job.

Sorry to write you a whole novel over here... I just understand how hard this must be, and I really truly sympathize and wish you only the best.

Good luck.  And again, I promise... it sucks in the meantime, but it DOES get better.

It really does.

And you're going to be okay.

March 27, 2012

The Very Best

A perfect child
Here's a fun challenge.

...or maybe not fun, but a challenge nonetheless.

The Momalog and Mama Wants This are hosting a blogging event for their first blogoversary.  And rather than just hosting a series of giveaways (which they are doing as well), they're hosting a linkup of your favorite blog posts.  Ever.

This was a really hard one for me.  Not because I'm such a narcissist (which I suppose I am), but because there are so many different kinds of "best."

Do I link up my best funny post?  My most read post?  The post that I thought was the most well written?

I've chosen to link up one of my oldest posts.  It's about realizing that I will always be pretty much a failure at parenting.  Which isn't a bad thing, exactly, it's simply inevitable.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead and Jewish Guilt

It was my 29th blog post (this is post number 286), and the one that really changed the direction of this blog into what it is today.  Prior to that, I had thought I was actually going to offer parenting advice or household tips or something.

I must have been crazy.

This is the post where I found Becoming SuperMommy's voice.  Don't get me wrong, this blog is still a grab bag of all sorts of things.  I've even got another couple craft type tutorials in the works.  And recipes.  And other things I probably haven't even thought of yet.  But for the most part, I know who Becoming SuperMommy is, and she's the lady that wrote this post.

It's one I go back to over and over again, because it constantly amazes me what we remember and what we forget.
Please read the post before reading the following paragraphs- I don't want to spoil anything for you.

After reading this post, M reminded me that the day we conceived our girls, I had told him all about this part of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and in order to ease my worries we had gone home and snuggled in bed for most of the afternoon.  Theoretically, at the moment our children were conceived, we were wrapped around each other talking about how much we loved each other and our hopes for our future and our family.

I don't know how I could have forgotten that.

But it warms my heart to no end to know how well he remembered it, and it in no way changes my feelings of gratitude for my children.

...and yes, I have agonized over the conditions in which Baby X was conceived as well.

And I am absolutely certain that Baby X will come into the world just as perfect.

March 26, 2012

In Our Cups, So To Speak

Baruch atah adonai!
As we all know, kids say the darndest things.

While this is true, there is a great deal of import when it comes to context.  Sometimes, the darndest thing is super cute and funny.  Sometimes, that same thing is... in a word... mortifying.

Oddly enough, the car is one of our favorite places.
My kids are of an age where they say something that makes me laugh every couple of hours.  Frequently, their best moments for verbal humor are in the car.  Take this little gem:

SI - "Where is we going?"
Me- "We are going to the restaurant!"
DD- "I LOVE the restaurant!  I want grilled cheese!"
Me- "Well you're in luck!  You can HAVE grilled cheese!"
DD- "I in luck!"
SI- "I want pizza!"
Me- "You are also in luck!"
SI- "I also in luck!"
DD- "I also in luck too!"

...okay, maybe that's only funny to me because of grammar issues.  But still.  Then yesterday SI had this moment of gut busting hilarity:

M and I are having a conversation about lifestyle and art and how despite our reactionary loathing for that white guy in the keffiyeh around his neck (probably without any idea about the statement they're making about Palestinian nationalism), a baseball cap with the brim pointed straight up, skinny jeans, and ironic t-shirt on the scooter who just went whizzing through the intersection, you've really got to give him some credit for actually committing so completely to the way he wants to be perceived.

Let's be realistic- they place they go to see hippies is
Grandmommy and Poppa's house.
M: "Of course, the whole Hippie movement was an exercise in lifestyle as art."
SI: "I LOVE hippies!  I saw hippies at the zoo!"

M and I laughed all the way to the playground.

But, you see, things like this are funny pretty much regardless of the context.  I could tell you that my two and half year old said that hippies live in the zoo, and it's going to be silly no matter what.

Some things, however, require the context.  You need to know that really, this kid has no idea how bad they're making their parents look.  Or at least their mother.

For Channukah, my children received a play Shabbat set.  It's awesome- there's wooden challah, wooden candlesticks, wooden candles with removable flames, and wooden goblet,.  (Actually, it was a Rosh Hashanah set, so it also came with a little shofar, a wooden jar of honey, and a wooden apple they can slice up.)  I put it away without letting them play with it.  Not because I'm a mean mommy, but because they got SO MUCH STUFF!  I figured, a few weeks or months would go by and then they could have it when they were particularly stir crazy or bored.

Hey Mommy!  Thanks for the bottle!
And that is precisely when they got it.  To complete the arrangement (and to quell any fights) I pilfered the goblet and bottle of Kosher For Pesach wine from their new toy Passover set (more on that in the coming week or two).

The thing is, this toy set has been really helpful.  SI has an aversion to singing... and most Hebrew prayers are sung.  Which meant that, until our Shabbat toys made their appearance, every Friday night included me singing the kaddish while my daughter screamed and sobbed.

By the way, for somebody who used to plan on singing opera (or at a piano lounge) for a living, having a kid who throws a fit each time you hum a tune is kind of like Hell.  But it's getting a little better.

At any rate, now Shabbat is a game.  And a super fun game, at that.  There's one song that Mommy sings when you pour your wine into your cup, there's another song that Mommy sings when you eat your yummy raisin challah, and there's another song that Mommy sings when you light the candles!  It's great!

This means, of course, that the girls want to "play Shabbat" several times a day.  And I'm happy to oblige, most of the time.

She's still not clear on the whole right-to-left thing.
But there's another side effect of this sort of game.  The discovery that there is a beverage that is inherently more fun than milk or juice or water.

I am, of course, talking about wine.

Ah, sweet nectar of the gods... wine.

The girls don't know it, but MAN O MAN does their Mommy love a good glass of wine.  Not that kosher sweet stuff, but GOOD wine.  A good Argentinian Malbec, a Califonian Pino Noir, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc...

Not that I'll turn up my nose at a Two Buck Chuck.

As it turns out, despite not having had a lot of wine in the past eight months, my kids have picked up on my love for wine.

Or so they would have you believe.  Because, you see, Shabbat is so much fun.

So recently, and of course in front of mixed company, I find myself asking my children, "What do you want to drink?"

Nom nom nom nom...
And they answer me, "Wine!"

...and then they proceed to mumble or sing tunelessly a series of words that make absolutely no sense, swaying sightly where they stand and giggling.

As though they've already had quite enough, thank you.

That's right.  You can say it.

My kids look like freakin' drunks.


People must think I am such a good mom.

As soon as this baby is out of me, I'm getting my own bottle of wine.

P.S. You can also get those awesome Jewish holiday toy sets- they're here.

March 25, 2012

Sunday Blogaround 3.25

Round and Round and Round we go!
This has been a great week for blogging, it seems!  I'm very happy to share a lot of good posts with you today, as you get ready to start up a new week of reading, writing, and life-living.

Let me know if you've uncovered any gems!  Feel free to post them to my facebook wall during the week, or to my account on Google+!  I would love to discover new and wonderful blogs, posts, stories, pictures... anything awesome.  And I'll be happy to credit you as a fabulous finder.  I might even start up a blog-reader hall of fame, if you rock at it as much as I think you might.


"Bald is Beautiful and Mohawks are Manly!" - The Butter Bottom Blog
Last month, this daddy blogger's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.  They're upbeat and confident, and this is a post about how they're owning the experience.  I love it.

"Six Year Old Explicit Lyrics" - Happy Hippie Homemaker
I was once asked to review a CD of children's songs. It's one of the few times that I got comments on this blog that could be construed as hate mail.  It's always wonderful to see other parents who agree with me on what is "child appropriate," or not, and who care more about good music than about content that has to do with balloons or rainbows.

"Beginnings" - Good Times Dad
Two words- freaking hilarious.

The Crafting Hobbit"When Support Groups Aren't So Supportive" - The Crafting Hobbit
The Crafting Hobbit has a son on the spectrum, and a husband on the spectrum too for that matter.  This week she was kicked out of her support group.  Why?  For asking them to treat non-special needs kids with the same consideration as her own.  Go show her some love.  She deserves it.

"An Open Dialogue" - The Kopp Girls
I know, I refer you to Kyle's blog a lot.  That's because his girls, being almost exactly the same age as my girls, do a lot of the same (or similar things).  And I absolutely can't get over reading about it from another person's perspective.  Knowing that you're loved by your kids is amazing, and watching them turn into these fully formed people... it's humbling.  And awe inspiring.  And Kyle writes about it eloquently.

"A Once Upon A Time Story" - Finally Mom
I've only recently discovered this blog, and I love it.  On top of that, I love "happily ever after" tales of toddlers and love.

"Little Hoss Brings the Zombies" - The Hossman Chronicles
If anybody ever told Daddy Hoss that they based their parenting philosophy, in any way, on HIS parenting... he'd probably have a minor heart attack.  And yet, I do.  Daddy Hoss rocks, and I'm right there with him when it comes to the vital importance of introducing your kids to Star Wars, of the possibilities of mixing glitter with household reconstruction, and protecting yourself against the inevitable zombie apocalypse.  That said, I too fear that as a result, I might be sowing the seeds of global destruction.

"Hero, Part Two" - Try Defying Gravity
This autism mom wrote earlier in the week about meeting Temple Grandin's mother.  But Eustacia Cutler wasn't the only inspiring person that she met.  In this post, she writes about a man reconnecting with his autistic brother.  In their fifties.

When Robots Reproduce
"New Mom Survival Guide: You Are Doing A Good Job" - When Robots Reproduce
I know, I know... I wrote this one.  It's part of a series that the mommy Robot is hosting on new motherhood, having just had her baby last weekend.  But I still think it was an awesome post.  :)

March 23, 2012

Spreading My Social Media Wings

Hello, lovely readers!

I've finally done it- I've created a Google+ page for Becoming SuperMommy!  Right now it's awfully lonely over there.  But the best way to get it up and running is to get you over there to show some love!

Hopefully I'll be seeing all of you in Google+ soon!


I'm all over the place!
Also- I'm guest posting today!

Check out my post at When Robots Reproduce!

See you there!

March 22, 2012

I Was Wrong

Mostly, they play together like angels.
I have no doubt that I'll be wrong again, but this time will probably stick in my memory forever.

This is undoubtedly the first of uncountable times that I will be guilty of this particular crime.

..I punished the wrong child.

You see, whenever DD is acting out, she makes the same sound.  It's her last ditch move to express her anger and frustration before she completely melts down.  I know that sound- I will always know that sound.  It's one short "AH!"  Her ultimate act of defiance before she loses all control.

While I was cooking yesterday, I heard a skirmish begin next to the girls' toy kitchen.  And then I heard that sound.  And as I walked into the dining room to find out what had happened, DD pushed SI away.

And, like I do, I began to lay down the law.  I put DD in time out.  I won't quite say that I yelled, but I made VERY CLEAR that it is NEVER okay to push ANYONE.  And as I lectured and forced the time out, DD just wailed and wailed and wailed.

And finally, I got to the point of getting to the bottom of things.

"Why did you push your sister?"  I asked.  I was fully not expecting an answer.  So far, every time I have asked this question it has been greeted with the response, "Yeah," or "Okay."

This time?

Playing at Shabbat
"SI hit me," she whimpered.  Her eyes still filled with tears as she bravely tried to weather her punishment.

I was shocked.

"Where?" I asked.

She began crying harder all over again, pointed at her ear, and said, "Here.  It hurts."

While I kissed her on the ear, I thought back on my own youth and childhood.  On all the times I felt I had been wrongfully punished when the real trouble maker was one of my sisters.

I can't even begin to describe the guilt that washed over me.

"Is that better?" I asked.  She shook her head no, and pointed to a different spot.  Apparently, my kiss had missed the mark.

I kissed her again, and she heaved a huge sigh of relief and pressed her head into my chest.

I called for SI.

"SI, did you HIT your SISTER?"  I asked.  I fully expected her to deny it.  She always does, even when I've witnessed the crime.

SI nodded solemnly.

"Is is EVER okay to hit your sister?"

"No." said SI.

"Is it ever okay to hit ANYBODY?" I asked.

"No." said SI.

Backyard fun with daddy
It was too late to put her in time out.  DD had just spent two minutes in time out, while SI had played happily. So I simply told SI she had to apologize to her sister, and give her a kiss.

She did both of those things readily.

I still feel dreadful.  I acted as I'm sure my own parents did, responding to what I saw, rather than the entirety of what took place.

Does it excuse DD from pushing her sister if she was hit first?  No.  But there is an injustice in only punishing on child.  Particularly the child who perpetrated the less effective violent act.

I'm going to do this again.  I know I will.

I just wasn't ready to be so thoroughly a parent.  I wasn't ready to be so self aware of my own failures, my own fallibility.  I wasn't ready to be straight up wrong.

They still love me, of course.  They will continue to basically ignore these failings of mine for some years to come, no doubt.

But the failings will continue.

I am not capable of being a perfect parent.  I am not capable of always knowing who is in the right, who is in the wrong, and who should be in trouble.  But it is my job to deal with those situations regardless of what I know through my own observations, it is my job to be as fair as I can be.

I let these kids get away with a lot
It is not fair for me to assume that SI is the mastermind behind any altercation, even if I suspect so.  From that she would only learn that I have no trust in her.

It is not fair for me to simply believe my children when they accuse each other of wrongdoing.  I have already come to know that they have the capacity to lie.

It is not fair for me to withhold punishment altogether when somebody acts out, there must be repercussions for wrongdoings- there must be consequences for behavior that is simply unacceptable.  It is the only way I know to impart to my children that there are societal expectations that they must adhere to- and perhaps first among them is how to interact peacefully with other people.

I try hard to discipline without hypocrisy.  Not to punish violence with violence, not to break my own rules.  We talk a lot about choices in our home, the choices to act correctly or to act badly.  We do not talk about somebody being inherently bad for making bad choices.  We stress always that your behavior is conscious, that you know when you are making choices you will regret.

And then it is just as important to see to it that those choices are regretted.

And it works.

I can take a child away from the dinner table while she throws a fit, and bring her back after her time out, ready to eat almost like a civilized person.

I can take a child away from a battle over a toy to talk about choices and consequences, and return her to a room to take turns almost like a rational being.

Through our discussions about choices and their consequences, I can make our children bathe and use the potty and go to bed.

But I can't always be right.  I can't always be fair.

My choices are not always good.

And as a result, I must live with the consequences.

I wish it was always this easy.
...the crushing, never ending maternal guilt that will hover over me as along as I live.

March 21, 2012

My Melanoma Madness

Sometimes, life feels a lot like this.
Like Old Mr. Johnson's fabled cat, it was bound to come back.

Or not, we'll see.  But at any rate, I had another charming trip to visit my idiot of a dermatologist yesterday.

Why?  Once again, I had a mole that was starting to get funny.  And after calling my PCP (not my OB, not my melanoma specialist), she insisted that I make the first possible appointment to see the old, easier to schedule with, jerk of a dermatologist.

I wasn't looking forward to it, and here's why:

  1. The mole in question?  Tiny.  Just like the last two.  The two he scoffed at, told me were too small to be worth worrying about at all, and then was flabbergasted when they turned out to be... well... cancerous.
  2. The mole in question?  One I'd had my eye on for some time anyway, so it might have been in the notes as "we looked at it and it was fine," which might mean I'd have a harder time getting somebody to listen to me.
  3. The mole in question?  ON MY STOMACH.  That's right- the rapidly expanding thing that's causing all of my skin to stretch.  That's the thing I was insisting that they cut into and put stitches in.

As you may recall, my dermatologist has no bedside manner.  None.  He never remembers me.  This is always irritating.  I've seen him about eight times now, and every time but the first he's finally remembered me when he's seen my back tattoo.

When he walked into the room yesterday to look at my probably-hysterical-pregnant-lady mole, the first thing that he said was, "Hey- you're pregnant."

No kidding, you knew I was pregnant the last two times you saw me... you know, three months ago.

"I saw you last time you were pregnant, didn't I?"

Yes, but you also saw me THIS time I was pregnant.  THREE MONTHS AGO.

He then proceeded to look at my mole, insist in a superior sort of tone that it was tiny and totally benign and there was no reason to even bother shaving it off, when I finally said, "And that's what you said last time.  And that was a melanoma, wasn't it?"

He gave me the sort of looks that can etch brick walls, and then left the room.

I spent a very uncomfortable twenty minutes listening as he, the resident, and the nurse conversed in hushed voices outside the door of the exam room.  I just... waited.

Finally, when they came back, they had my brand new melanoma specialist with them.  I had never met her before, but I am scheduled with her for my first *real* melanoma evaluation in about a month.

She looked at the mole, described it, and then explained that it was tiny, that it was normal, and that I shouldn't be worried. which I responded, "I know.  I just wanted to be sure, because this is exactly what the last one looked like.  And see?  Here's my big ol' scar from where this guy re-excised it because it was melanoma."

Slightly surprised, she asked my dermatologist... "What did the last one look like?"

He couldn't tell her.

I picked up my comic book, and trying not to steam at the ears, answered her questions to my dermatologist, as they stood poring over surgery notes on the computer.

Nobody had photographed my previous moles.

Nobody had written an adequate description of them.

And of course, my dermatologist couldn't remember.

Finally, when she said, "Do you have any idea what it looked like?" I shouted over them,

"IT WAS TINY- IT WAS (holding my finger and thumb a millimeter apart) THIS BIG!"

The old dermatologist turns to me and said, with his eyes huge and round, "Oh yeah!  NOW I remember!  That thing was tiny!  It was, like, less than two millimeters!  It looked like NOTHING!"

It was the melanoma specialist's turn to give a withering look, but not to me this time around.

As she gritted her teeth, she turned to me and said, "Now that I know your medical history, I understand.  And while this is so early in its development that it's unlikely we'd learn anything from it, I think that we should take it off."  She then turned to the resident who would be performing the excision and said, "Four millimeters."

And abruptly left the room.

All of that took about an hour.  The removal of the mole?

Two minutes.  Two stitches.  Done.

I don't know yet if it was cancerous.  It probably wasn't, as the melanoma expert said, "too early in its development."  But it was still definitely changing.  And it was still definitely changing quickly in a way that, in my own medical history, leads to cancer.

The moral of the story?  You have to be your own advocate.  You can't always trust your doctors to do the right thing, all the time.  You have to trust them that they know more than you, but not about you.  Not about your own medical history, not about your own understanding of what is and isn't normal for your body.

You also have to be vigilant.  You have to keep your eyes open for things that change, things that are not supposed to change when it comes to your body.  You know your body, and you know when it's doing something funny, and funny is not usually a good sign when it comes to your body misbehaving.  You have to take care of yourself.  And sometimes, that means dealing with unpleasant or embarrassing situations.

Yesterday, I basically had to bully a gigantic jerk with a scalpel into cutting into my pregnant belly.  Something that I am 100% not thrilled about.

But it was the safe thing to do.  It was the thing that I needed to do to ensure that my children, all three of them, would have me around past the end of this pregnancy.


I totally want to punch that jerk in the face.


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