Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On parenting an (almost) three year old

Some days I feel like the world's worst mother, I wonder if my kids have any hope of turning out normal.  It is SO easy to parent other people's screaming children in the grocery store or in the hospital or out at a restaurant (if they would just tell that child, no.  Perhaps if you didn't yell at him like that....)
But parenting your old child is hard, hard work.  And some days, most days, I feel completely inadequate.

I've been working in the ER lately and some days I work 1:00pm-11:00pm.  Today is such a day.  I know that if I don't keep Matthew home with my in the morning, I will not see him at all, so I do it, despite the fact that it throws of his schedule. But on those days I do, I feel like such a parenting failure.

Our morning went as such:
Go for a quick run. Come back and pump (stationary time, can't really do much with Matthew.)  Meanwhile, Matthew is "playing" with the blender pretending to blend food like he sees me do for Samuel.  "Mommy, will you blend with me?"  I can't right now, Matthew. I'm pumping for Samuel. Then I ask Matthew what he wants for breakfast. Eggs. I start to make eggs. No, waffles.  But I'm making eggs, Matthew. Let's have eggs.  No, waffles. Minor temper tantrum. Since I haven't already started to make the eggs (only gotten them from the fridge), I commence making waffles, going back on my "no."  Meanwhile, "mommy will you plug this in? Mommy will you blend with me? Mommy, will you get me milk? Mommy, can you pick that up?"  I get frustrated. No, Matthew, I'm trying to make you waffles now because I have to feed Samuel his breakfast and we have to go to school soon.  I finish the waffles. Give them to Matthew. Sit down with some of my own.  Mommy, can I have yours? No, matthew, you have your own (which are half gone by now).  These are mommies. They are the same. You need to eat yours.   Breakfast is done. Samuel is screaming. I somehow manage to feed him is fruit.  Mommy, will you blend with me? Not right now, Matthew, I'm feeding Samuel.  Matthew is playing with his plate and knocks Samuel's bowl off the table and onto the floor. It spills.  "Matthew!" (in an exacerbated voice!) I'm so frustrated.  I go to get more food, "are you getting Samuel more food?" "yes," "Why?" "because you spilled it, Matthew."  The kid is 3. It's not his fault, what happened to the days when he was a younger baby and would knock something over or spill something and I'd simply say, "uh-oh! No problem!"

Then, the kitchen is a disaster. I commence cleaning.  Samuel is screaming because he's tired and a little sick with a cold. Matthew is still "blending." I'm telling him "no" every other second because he's trying to do something he's not allowed to do.  I finally finish cleaning and put Samuel in his crib since he's so tired.  He falls asleep.  I take a shower. Matthew stays downstairs, alone, still blending. After my shower, he comes upstairs for a band-aid because he has a cut on his finger.  I give him a band-aid, change his diaper, get his shoes on, put him in the car.  

He plays with the keys in the car, opening and closing the automatic door while I get Samuel ready to get into the car. While putting Samuel in the car, he starts to close the door on my. "Matthew! Stop.  He does not listen.  "Matthew Benjamin, give me those keys right now!"  He complies. But he's only 3. He doesn't understand. I'm the one who gave him the keys in the first place, because if I don't, a large tantrum ensues. I get Samuel in the car, and we go.

I never did blend with him.

And when we get to school I drop him off and he clings to me. How on earth can he love me so much and not want me to leave when my interactions with him that morning consisted of, "no," and "not yet."

I get so frustrated with him all the time for the stupidist things.  For not sitting still like I want, smiling for pictures like I want, for always wanting to play with my phone, for not listening to me when I tell him no (ok, maybe that one is not so stupid), for not laying still when I change his diaper, for still needing to USE a diaper, for splashing water onto the floor in the bathtub.   He's 3.  He doesn't know. It doesn't really matter. And while I don't "yell" at him, I often get quite frustrated and change the tone of my voice more than I want. Or raise it just a little. Oh, to have the (non-existent) temper of my husbad, or my mother.  But...I got my father's temper and I got a child with my, shall we say, zest for life.

I go back on my "no" more often that I should--typically after i've re-evaluated the situation and decided I don't have the energy for a battle. But then why did I say no in the first place?

I have no idea if I'm normal or if I'm just a huge failure. I definitely have no idea how single mom's do it, and I have no idea how stay at home mom's do it. They must have the patience of a saint, because at least going to work revives me in someway so that I'm a little more patient with my children when I return home.

I apologize to Matthew sometimes, which I hope will help him in the long run, but all the time I feel like I don't spend enough quality time with him or have enough patience with him or enforce the limits like I should.  

I need a parenting mentor.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Our budding photographer

Matthew's favorite thing ever is to take pictures.  He is always using our phones as cameras and pitches a big ol' fit when we pull out our real, expensive camera and tell him he can't play with it. He turns everything into "cameras": legos, blocks, pieces of paper, etc.

We got him a kids digital camera for his birthday. His birthday party is next Saturday and we're going to give it to him then. He's going to flip a lid. We're going to have to video him opening it.   Here are some of the "better" pictures Matthew has taken. I think it's funny, because it documents so many things that wouldn't otherwise get documented.

 This is Matthew's gummy vitamin that he takes every morning. I'm pretty sure it's the highlight of his day.  Its obviously important enough to him to take a picture of it:

Signing forms for Samuel's shots at the doctor:

Exer-saucer fun

Samuel loves his Exer-saucer.  We had some fun while Daddy and Matthew went to the store. 

The rogue agent

I have a problem.  A personal problem. And so this blog is about to get really personal because I need some serious help, so I'm going to have to tell you all about it.

Bertha has gone rogue.

(Big) Bertha is my left boob.

My "extra" pumping has been, until this point, something I have done in order to build up a giant (and I mean giant) supply of extra breast milk and also something I've done to continue burning as many calories as humanly possible (hey, I love my ice cream).  Samuel has slept through almost every single night since he was about 6 weeks old.  He is now 6 1/2 months old.  I have not slept through the night since sometime during my pregnancy with Samuel because, since he started sleeping through the night, I've been awakened by painful boobs (mostly my left) and gotten up to pump.  I did this with Matthew, too, to build up my supply. So every night since Samuel was 6 weeks old I've pumped and typically I would get I'd say maybe 10-11 ounces of milk in my night pumping. Samuel drinks 7.5 oz bottles. Sometimes I've gone through spells where I'd get 15 ounces of milk, and I would like to tell you that 9 or 10 of those ounces were pumped from Bertha alone. I said that at 6 months I was going to stop the middle of the night pumping. I have no idea how to do this.

With Matthew, around 6 months, he started waking up consistently in the night to eat.  And I'd feed him and he'd always eat way less than the 10 ounces I had been pumping, so for a month or so he did this and my supply decreased and I wasn't in pain because he drinking, but just not that much.   Then, when he started sleeping again, so did I and it was pretty nice.

But this is not happening now. Samuel woke up in the night for about like 4-5 days and I fed him and those nights I didn't pump, and I thought we had a nice streak going that would end my pumping drama.  But then he started sleeping again and I was still waking up in pain.  My supply had definitely gone down but was still there. I was pumping maybe 8 ounces instead of like 10, and Bertha was putting out 5-6. But then I started working nights at the ER (just 3 nights in a row) and so I had to pump in the middle of the night. And now I've been done with nights for like a week or so, but for some reason, the last couple of days my supply has just skyrocketed. I am trying to force myself to stay in bed and not wake up in the middle of the night, but like 5:30 rolls around (which has been my wake up time the last few days) and I am in so much pain I absolutely have to pump. It's like, I had no idea I had bread tissue up by my collar bone. Seriously. And I've gotten like 15 ounces, with 9 coming from Bertha. And after I pump, oh my gosh, the relief.  My aunt Linda once said that pumping that much milk after you're that full is better than sex.  So, so, true.

But...this cannot continue. Because I only have one more day of waking up at 5:30 for work (Thank you, God) and then I will be sleeping until like 7 and I'm not going to be happy when Bertha wakes me at 5:00 or 5:30.

So what do I do? How do I tame this beast? I need to sleep in the middle of the night. But my schedule is so erratic. It changes weekly, if not, monthly, with each rotation and so, therefore, does my pumping schedule, so that's probably not good for tying to decrease things.  Do I just pump until I'm not in pain? (Because today, that was like 6 ounces out of Bertha alone until I was not in pain) or do I set an alarm at like 2 or 3, before I'm bursting, and wake up and pump just like 3 ounces out of Bertha? And how long do I do all this for? How long is it going to take to tame this?  Do I need a stepwise program here to decrease my addiction, here? I'm not sure I can go cold turkey. I'd be in so much pain that'd I'd be awake for hours in the night thinking about my pain when getting up to pump and going back to bed takes 20 minutes to 30 minutes. Not sure how long it would take to decrease things, though, if I went cold turkey.

Has anyone ever dealt with this before? Things just worked so seemlessly with Matthew, but with Matthew I was nursing more often than I was pumping and now that's not really the case with my schedule. I think the pump has caused my problems, which have not really been problems until I decided I really, really, need to sleep through the night.

So, nursing friends, and particularly those who pump a lot (I think I even have some whose kids never took the breast and they exclusively pumped...) fix my problem. Please.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Two competing desires

You are probably wondering how on earth I'm going to adopt a child from Russia and finish medical school and start residency. The answer is, very simply, I'm not. I can't.  Even if I theoretically could work out the time off for trips to Russia, I just cannot justify bringing home a child from an orphanage who has had like no love or attention or consistency in her whole life and who most likely did not win the genetic lottery and say, "so sorry, sweetie. I'm going to work 80 hours a week."  No way. As much as I want to just keep pushing on through the very long and tumultuous process of medical school and residency, I just cannot be that selfish. She needs to bond with me.  And...really...staying home with my kids for a year or 8 months or something will probably help to relieve some of the mommy guilt I feel for working so much. I'm hoping to stay home with them (and I'm hoping I will love it...but will not love it too much, so that in 2 years, when I'm an intern in residency I can remember that I do, really, want to work.)


The adoption is so uncertain and I just can't stop medical school. I have to continue with the process of applying to residency, of continuing my rotations, until the adoption is as certain as certain can be (Ideally, when she's living in our house) But the longer and longer we wait for a second referral (hopefully the next one will be healthy child!) the more frustrated Tim and I become at the uncertainty we are faced with. We are coming up on residency interviews and in February we will provide our ranked list of schools to "the match" and in the middle of March we will receive a lovely envelope telling us where we will be living, and at that point I am legally and contractually obligated to go to that program.  I'm not entirely certain of the problems that will present if I call them and say, "actually...can I come in 2014?" but I think there could me many..depending on the school. And I'm really hoping to not be in that place.  Plus, there is a huge part of me that WANTS to finish and match and become a doctor so that I can get through residency and start making money and working normal hours instead of making no (or very little) money and working terrible hours. Sigh....


The adoption takes 4-6 months to be totally complete from the time we get a referral. And it's October. And we have no good referral. And Russia closes down from Dec 15- Jan 15. do the math.  Our time is limited and we are trying to pursue to very life changing things at the time same time the end...will likely be mutually exclusive in the short term.

If we have to move before the adoption is complete, we cannot proceed with the adoption anymore because our homestudy was for our particular house. And we are not applying to residency programs in Dayton. So we go back to day 1, a year and a half ago, and lose all that money. Which is a lot of money. Trust me.

With each passing day we become more anxious for a good referral, not only because we long to have a daughter but also because we long to know what our future holds.

Pray for us, as we deal with discouragement at how very long this process has become.

To Russia with Engraged Fury

I have said this many times, but the international adoption process is just not for the faint of heart. I mean, really, this is ridiculous.

So last Monday was my birthday and for my birthday I was really hoping we would get a call from our adoption agency saying, "we have your daughter!" but...instead...they called and said, "We have more nonsense for you to do!"  Apparently Russia just changed their laws like September 1st and is now requiring more training of adoptive parents before adoptions can be finalized.  This training is not online, like the training we did 1 year ago but has to be "face to face."  So, in a scramble to meet these requirements and not delay the adoption process for their families, our agency is hosting several in person training days that, of course, are mandatory. But these training days are being given for their families all around the country who are adopting, so the trainings are in: Chicago, Washington DC, California, and Arizona. Awesome. Cause I don't already have 10 residency interviews that are taking me all over creation. Oh wait, I do.

These trainings are not well timed. The first one is Friday the 19th and Saturday the 20th.  Our prior plans were for my to take my Emergency Medicine final exam the 19th and then for us to fly our to Colorado that evening to start my away rotation at the University of Colorado on Monday. So, that won't work.  But the other two trainings are in November, during the time we're in Colorado, when I am supposed to work 6 days a week and only get 2 "sick days" which I am using for interviews at residency programs out there.  So...I can't do the training then, either.  But if we don't do these, we don't adopt. Perfect. a long ordeal I talked to the clerkship director for Emergency Medicine who was less than thrilled about letting me make up the exam and miss the 19th (the last day of the rotation) to do this training. And when I say, "less than thrilled" I mean, she said, "no."  But she did say I could ask the Student Promotions Committee at school and see what they thought. So I did and then a few days later I got a gruntled e-mail from her saying, "well, I don't like this at all, and I don't think it's a good decision, but you can make up the test."  I guess the student promotions committee told her to suck it up and let me make up the test. I think, after two children during medical school and being in the top 20% of my class, I've earned their respect. Thank God. I really need them on my side for this adoption. So the clerkship director gave me all these stipulations for making up the test, including "you will receive an incomplete until you make up the test..."  Really? Is that supposed to scare me? Cause....I was expecting that. And then she kept telling me that if I make up the test I will be at a disadvantage because the "emergency medicine material will not be fresh in your mind."  I wanted to reply and say, "Dear Dr:  I am a 4th year. I have had 2 kids. I have yet to fail anything in med school.   I think I can pass your test even if I take it in April. Love, Katherine."  Ridiculous (now, watch me fail...)  I'll tell you, folks, women doctors are another breed of people. I have had so much more trouble with the whole kid, pumping, adoption, etc business from women during med school instead of men.

So...anyway....we are going to Chicago for this training Oct 19 and 20th. Two long days of ridiculous training. And to mention, my schedule until then is as follows:
Oct 4 (today) through October 8: work
October 10 through 12: work
October 13: Matthew's party
October 14: work night shift
October 16: Fly to Wisconsin for my first residency interview
October 17th: return from Wisconsin
October 18th: drive to Chicago
October 20: return from Chicago
October 21: fly to Colorado to live for 4 weeks.

Someone please tell me when I'm going to see my kids.

So...Russia...with your stupid laws stemming from the stupid woman who sent her son back to Russia: you better start giving me a referral instead of giving me more hoops to jump through or I'm going to.....continue to post blog posts about how annoyed I am.

Love, Katherine

The 6 month saga

The moral of this post is as follows: drop out of medical school.

I am delayed on Samuel's 6 month post because I've been waiting for the story to finish so I could give you the entire thing.  Knock on wood, somebody, but I think I'm ready to tell you the saga.

So like a week or so before Samuel turned 6 months I thought it was time to try solids. I made my own oatmeal cereal from steel cut oats. I was so super mom. Only the healthiest for my baby. So Samuel did fine with it for a few days but then we started pooping a crazy amount. Like 7-8 times a day. And then it got worse. His little bottom became flaming read, his poop started having mucus in it, and my happy little baby was super fussy all the time.  Then, at his 6 month check up he weighed 15 lbs 12 oz and had dropped to the 17% and was only 25 3/4 inches long, had dropped to the 10%.  My pediatrician was not worried, just said it was an allergy to oats.   But I, you see, I am in medical school. So, clearly, my son had some horrible, rare disease.

The rare disease I diagnosed him with was Celiac's disease, an autoimmune condition where the body cannot tolerate gluten and alters the intestine so it cannot absorb nutrients. People who have this disease are in horrible pain experience horrible diarrhea, and cannot gain weight.  Oats are often contaminated with gluten. I was certain this was it. I talked with a friend whose son has a milk allergy (pretty common) when she has dairy in her diet (because, clearly, Samuel had developed a milk allergy suddenly, at 6 months old, as well) and learned that the mucus can stay in the poop long after the offending agent was removed.  About 3 days after we stopped the oats, Samuel was much less fussy and his bottom cleared up, but his constant pooping didn't get better and his poop still had mucus. I fretted. I was convinced something was horribly wrong, so I went gluten free for a day until I decided...perhaps totally changing my diet was a bit premature.

He was doing better on the fussy scale, but I was so certain he wasn't gaining any weight. We were weighing him at home on our fool proof cookie sheet laying on top of a postal scale. Error free---for sure. And our scale showed us he was losing weight. Celiacs. For sure. I started him on rice cereal (store bought, this time, I was done being super mom) and that night he had one episode of diarrhea. I made Tim call Gerber who said that there is a chance it could have been contaminated with Gluten. Celiac's for sure.

The next day he came down with a fever.  I stopped the rice cereal and continued him on just homemade fruits and veggies. THEN a few days after the fever was gone, he broke out in a rash.

An allergy? I didn't think so. I suddenly had enough clinical foresight to note the rash was viral, but I still took him to the doctor (who agreed with me...).  I told her all about my woes, how he was certain to have Celiac's disease, how I was not looking forward to going gluten free. How he was losing weight. We weighed him. 16 lbs 8 oz (two weeks after his 15 lbs 12 oz) 20%, right back to where he belonged. He's not fussy at all now, and is doing quite well on his fruits and veggies and his pooping, praise God, is now well under control and fully back to normal.  I'm still a little hesitant to re-introduce rice cereal, but I am hopeful his diarrhea that night was from his virus. The oats...I'm still out on that. But if he had Celiac's disease, I think he'd be reacting to the gluten in my diet and losing weight.

Crisis averted.   So we will try rice again in a week or so. And who, knows maybe oats too (rolled this time, not steel cut).  This whole incident may have just been a long virus.

But, for now, he is a happy go lucky (albeit short, he's still in the 10%) 6 month old baby who can now sit up (pretty well) and who loves to spend time on his hands and knees rocking back and forth.  It will not be long now until he's chasing after his brother.

I promise, I do not over diagnose other people and other people's kids with rare diseases.  Just me. And my own kids.   It's exhausting, being me.   I think its more exhausting being Tim, who has to listen to my nonsense.  Medical school friends totally understand, because I know I'm not alone. Medical school and parenting don't mix.

Matthew's favorite thing in the world is to take pictures with my phone. Don't tell him that we got him his very own kid camera for his birthday. I think I'm more excited then he will be, cause then I can get my phone back. But here are a few he has snapped of Samuel:

At the doctor getting his 6 month shots...I had no idea Matthew even had my phone:

This one is from like 5 months old, but it's still cute. I am terrible about loading pictures from our camera onto my a lot of blog post pictures are limited by what's on my phone.