Monday, December 20, 2010

As Long As I'm Living, My Baby You'll Be

Last night at dinner:

Sweetie: Was it the tube way or the cut off a part of your body way?

Me: Huh?

Sweetie: How I got out of your body. Did I come out the tube way or the way where they cut off a piece of your body?

Me: The tube way.

Sweetie: Good.

M: And they don't cut off a piece of the body. They cut a slit under the mom's belly button and lift the baby out.

S: Oh..... Where's the tube now? What's it made out of? Can I see it?

M: Ha! It's not really a tube. It's part of a woman's body. It's called the birth canal.

S: (commences with rowing motions) La, la, la, la, la.... I'm on the birth canal on the way to be born!

S: (obviously thinking more, more questions formulating in her mind)

Me: Every female has 3 openings in their private parts. One for pee to come out, one for poop to come out, and one in the middle for the baby to come out.

Hubby: So you're a mixture of pee and poop!

(Uproarious laughter ensues.)


And thus endeth the cute but embarrassing little stories I'll be sharing about Sweetie. Probably. Yes - on today, her 8th birthday, I think I should call an end to publishing anymore stories that may potentially embarrass her. She's a cool 2nd grader now, you know. Computer savvy friends of hers may somehow, possible, happen upon my blog. It's time to continue on with what I've been pretty much doing of late anyway here... writing more about what's going on for me and allowing Sweetie to take a bit of a backseat. Let my baby grow up with a bit more anonymity. It's time.

Not that I won't even mention her anymore. Of course I will! This is Sweetie & Me, after all. I simply vow to mind more closely what I write about her, considering her feelings more regarding any Sweetie-focused stories I relate. It's time.

But, wow! Eight years old?! Really? Already?! I honestly cannot believe it. I mean, do you know how close 8 years old is to 10 years old?! Very close! And then - OMG! - puberty! I don't even want to think about that yet. Please, God, grant she and I both the strength and patience to manage those years together as carefully and successfully as possible. Then there's learning to drive, applying and getting into college, then dating. (Yes - dating will be the last in the sequence of events. Of course. Study first, date later. Yes.)

Yeah, right.

Okay, okay. Phew. Slowing it down a bit.

Today you are 8, my Sweetie. Eight is GREAT,  just like you continue to self-proclaim yourself to be every day. And, boy, are you right! YOU are great. In every possible way. I cannot tell you the number of times Daddy and I turn to each other and say "I just love her so much!" after admiring the latest creation you've built, hearing the last insightful observation you just made, or gazing upon you as you watch something in wonder, not even realizing there's a world of things going on around you. Of course we are completely biased, but to us, you are amazing and inspiring and practically perfect in every way.

You whispered a random question to me the other night. "Mom? Do I have more of your personality or Dad's personality?"

I answered that I thought you had more of Dad's personality but that there were definitely some parts of it that were much more like me. You agreed with me and smiled happily. And I do think you are a very good mix of both him and me. From the way you look (you used to look so much like Daddy, but now I think you're starting to look a bit more like me), to the way you carry yourself, to what your personality is and what you like to do with your time. I have to hand it to us - we sure are raising a great Sweetie and influencing her growth in some of the best ways possible.

But then - oh my! - there are oh so many ways that you are your very own person, plain and simple. Especially how comfortable you are in a crowd of people (where did that come from?!) and your general confident self-awareness. I really don't think you have ever had a shy day in your life. Daddy and I can't get over how it seems that everyone at school - from your classmates, to all the other kids in all the other grades, to teachers and parents and staff - EVERYONE seems to know who you are and so many kids of all ages seem to clamor towards you trying to vie for a slice of your time and attention.

Little boys vow their love for you and little girls are, I think,  curious about you. No, you're not the typical doll-loving, dress-wearing, house-playing girl. But you also don't mind those activities either. You excitedly went to a classmate's tea party themed dress up birthday party last weekend and brought along your "favorite" doll (read: your only doll, that usually just sits on the shelf). But how attentive you were to that baby doll! And all week after, you've remembered another doll I've adopted from my grandmother's collection and, together with both dolls now, you've been gently attending to their needs, setting up a comfy chair for them to sit together in, and directing quiet little conversations between these two new fast friends. And then, when you know they're all set, you turn once again to build cars, structures and contraptions with your Legos.

You are definitely a very multi-faceted kid!

I look back at the hundreds of pictures - man, there's probably thousands of pictures! - of you that we've taken since you came into our lives. Pictures of times that seem at once so very long ago but yet were really just a blink of the eye away - weren't they?

My baby, sleeping peacefully across her Daddy's knees.

My baby's first messy whole-foods meals, hands up in the air - "Ah da!" you said when you're spaghetti was gone.

My seemingly sad baby at her 2nd birthday party. Not really. I just happened to catch a shot of you during a quiet, thoughtful moment.

My laughing baby girl, watching for the 50th time the very funny (to a 2 year old) chickie dance video we found at, I think.

My baby, covered entirely with a blanket in the back seat of our non-air conditioned car on a late August day as we traveled to Hershey, PA. What a crazy girl! You traveled extremely well, given the conditions, and you LOVED Hershey beyond our wildest dreams. For years after you wished and wished you could go back there. No better place on earth existed, you were sure.

My baby lying in the colorful fall leaves, nothing but pure glee shining bright on your face.

My baby, dressed up as the Victorian Alice in Wonderland, celebrating her Very Merry Unbirthday at 5 1/2 years old. A forest tea party, painting the roses red, surrounded by friends and family and loving your pink and green 1/2 birthday cake. What a fun day!

My baby, off to the first day of kindergarten! Bye bye, Sweetie! I know you'll just love every minute of this next phase of your life (and you knew you would too, seeing as you jumped out of the car and trotted confidently into the building, not one look back at Daddy and me.)

My baby, proud to show off her new buddy, Mr. Bill. Found on one of your earlier geocaching excursions with Daddy. What an exciting new hobby for us all!

My baby, dressed up as a stick of butter for Halloween. Your idea. Of course. And how certain you were of it too! You and your very unique, very creative ideas!

My baby, showing off her dance pose before a big performance. How proud we were of your accomplishments! - (if not about your attitude. Oh well...)

My baby, indoor skydiving! So exciting! You jumped right in, no fear at all. The picture we have says it all - pure bliss written all over your face. Loved it!

My baby, off and peddling on her new 2-wheeler. Self taught, I might add. You just got on and rode, as Daddy and I stood aside, discussing how your non-training wheel training should proceed. Within moments you were a 2-wheeler pro!

My baby - blowing out her candles on her 8th birthday cake. Her Very Awesome Birthday Cake that looks like a Lego! A green Lego with 2 smaller pink Legos on top. The coolest ever! How proud you were to show it off yesterday at your party.

Yes. Wow. Eight years old already. A little kid. A big kid who's requested we have sushi for her birthday dinner. A smart, curious, imaginative, outgoing, artistic, thoughtful, beautiful, opinionated, great, kind, funny, and sweet young lady. Our Sweetie.

My baby. Forever.

Happy Birthday, Baby. I love you.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On Excitement

I wrote the following email this morning to a friend of mine I went out with last night. It's a simple email, but its subject has really been poking at me all day. His simple questions of "Is (Sweetie) excited about...." such & such, or "Are you excited about...." such and such, and my blaise answers of, "yeah, whatever, I guess, I don't know." Well, I just felt bad for being such a humbug.

My original post title here was "An Email to a (Childless) Friend)". But I replaced that with the title above. I thought, at first, that it was important to note this friend I saw doesn't have any kids. My wanting, I guess, to show the why of my humbuggishness. "I'm a parent, so I'm busy, and I've got to make the holidays fun for my Sweetie, I don't have time for me! Something you, without kids, wouldn't/couldn't possible understand." But then I thought better. Anyone can be stressed at this time of year. Anyone can hit a pocket of humbug attitude. Not just those with little kids.

Anyway. It all made me take a good pause. Considering what it is about the season that will bring excitement to my day. I hope your days, whatever your family looks like, are filled with joy and excitement as well.

And, with that...

Hi (Friend),

Thank you again for another fun visit, and for the dinner. I'm glad we found places to go other than the chaotic B&N! That was crazy!

I also apologize because I feel I was a bit of a downer, what with my humbug-y attitude toward Christmas and my responses to your questions about general excitement over upcoming events in our household. I guess I just think (and nothing against you at all!) that that's just a silly question - "Are you excited about ______?" because my definition of true excitement is jumping up and down absolute giddiness, and I just don't see anyone ever acting that way over anything as a general rule, except for kids, of course, getting excited about whatever fun thing is coming up in their lives. :) And to that end - yes - I asked (Sweetie) this morning if she was excited for the school Christmas concert tomorrow and she did give me a big smile, a little hop of joy, and a definite "Yes!" answer of excitement. So there you go - excitement lives! And, yes, of course she's excited about her birthday and Christmas. With her birthday first - and the knowledge that all her friends can come to her party and she's getting an awesome Lego birthday cake! - I definitely think that's at the forefront of her mind. Then after that, it's so exciting for her that Christmas is just a few days away. Like I said last night, it's a big week for her, with her birthday and family gatherings and presents, etc...

For adults, though - and I think maybe especially for parents of young kids - this time of year is really crazy busy and stressful and just has a ton of things to get done, all outside of the work schedule, which for both (Hubby) and I is busier seeming this year than in other recent years. Not enough time to get excited - just have to go, go, go. I'll be excited, though, on Christmas Eve, after (Sweetie's) to bed and all the gifts are under the tree, the stockings are filled, and we are "done." Being done with all the prep work and only having the fun day of Christmas left to look forward to will be great and very exciting! I can't wait for that. Not for Christmas to be over, but for the preparations to be done and the time comes to be excited with/for (Sweetie) about what we'll all find under the tree on Christmas morning.

SO - there you go. I'm a bit of a humbug now, but it will all be great and exciting in the end. Gotta get through this craziness in order to make Christmas as magical as possible, after all. :)

Well, have a great day, a good week, and a wonderful holiday! Thanks again for everything.

Monday, December 06, 2010

This One Goes Out To All You SB Moms

Final Update: I am fine. Went to the neurologist - general neurologst, not a Spina Bifida specialist - and she determined me to be fine. No obvious signs of shunt malfunction. And I suppose I'm feeling better too. The headahes are definitely gone and I've got myself some pure cranberry juice for drinking - thus, my UTI symptoms are being held at bay. I've been instructed to go see my GP if my abdominal symptoms go on. So far, I'm holding out on that, monitoring my days as a I go. :)

Midweek Update: UTI symptoms seem to have subsided. Headache - dull, all over/including back of head headache - really only present every morning upon getting up. Goes away for the day with 1 dose of over the counter pain meds. Lower right abdomen pain more noticeable. A sore pain, like a pulled muscle or something, when pushed. This morning I've talked to the nurse at my neurologist's. She didn't seem all that concerned, as other signs of shunt malfunction not present. But I am being seen by them, this Fri. morning. In the meantime, I'm continuing to monitor as well as eat healthily and drink plenty of fluids (since taking my evening job 3 days a week I've notice my system has been different/backed up, if you know what I mean. Hoping to get things going again. Maybe that's my problem!

For all my readers who wonder where's all the "Spina Bifida" in this here Spina Bifida Moms blog... hold on to your hats, cuz here it comes!

Sore neck for the last 3 days.

Weird sort of pressure-y headache/neck ache, but (for the headache part) really just on the right side of my head when I move a certain way/too fast. Masked by pain meds, but returns every 4 - 6 hours.

UTI symptoms continue, even after being 1/2 way through my antibiotics. My second round of antibiotics.

Sore abdomen, right side. I think. Or am I imagining this one? I don't know anymore...

I think I had a spot of double vision the other night. But then again, I was walking through a winter wonderland of, basically, a tunnel of holiday lighted trees everywhere you looked. Seems to me such an environment could make anyone wind up with funky vision in the midst of all that.

Really sore shoulders and arms muscles, but that does seem like a rather random symptom to add in to the mix of otherwise neurologically-themed goings on.

Oh yeah. And crap health insurance. Crazy high deductible crap health insurance.

But at least it's the end of the year and not the beginning of a new one. Or is it? Yes, end of the actual year. But my new plan year just began in October. Crap. 

And at least I have some sort of insurance - crap or not.

No, but really... I don't get sick very often. And whenever I do - from a bad cold, to the flu, to migraines, whatever - I admit that I really do tend to take the "oh my God, this is something TERRIBLE! I'm going to end up in the hospital. I'm going to DIE!" camp. That's just how I roll... 

.... and then I'm fine.

So. I'm really probably just fine. Stop my worrying, take more Advil, finish out my antibiotics, and get over myself while I naturally get over whatever this is that's going on with me.

At the same time, I suppose a trip in to the doctor wouldn't hurt. Other than the fact that it would hurt my bank account. We just paid off the dentist, now have added back on almost the entire cost of the dentist in this whole UTI detecting scenario. Why not go full out with yet another trip in to the doctor where - yippee! - they (I'm betting) wouldn't really be all that informed about the signs of shunt malfunction and would send me right to the hospital.

It's happened before. Years ago I had a simple case of mono. The doctor was overly cautious with me, though, and was concerned it might be meningitis. Sent me for an overnight stint in the hospital. Nope. Just mono. Go home and sleep. You'll be fine.

Anyway. Ching, ching! Can you here those medical bills just go up and up and UP?!

So, yeah. I'm a tad bit concerned I'm experiencing a shunt malfunction. 

But then again...

My mood has not changed, nor my speech pattern or my intellect. My walking/gait is the same as it's always been. I don't have a fever at all, or vomiting (last night I thought I felt a tad nauseous, but not that bad.) I don't have redness or swelling along my shunt catheter tract, and I'm breathing and swallowing just fine. 

Plus I've, of course, mentioned my symptoms and concerns to Hubby. He assures me that he's had before the exact type of headache I've been experiencing. Also, my sore neck is a relatively frequent problem I've experienced from time to time and have mentioned to my neurologist before, as I've been concerned that my Arnold Chiari Malformation was worsening/becoming a problem. Her response? No - you're fine. We all get stiff/sore necks from stress and such. Don't worry.

And lastly - really, what have I done/been through lately that would cause my shunt to malfunction? I've just been living my little life, with no major bodily upset. And I know, from my last shunt revision probably 15 years ago or so, that the surgeon then put in a very extended length of catheter tubing  - enough so that I could literally grow to be over 6 ft. tall and still have plenty of tubing to spare.

I'm not even quite 5 feet tall. I haven't gone though any grow spurts of late. And I'm hardly expecting to. So I think I'm good.

And as far as these UTIs possibly/maybe expending undue trauma to my shunt... well, I've had UTIs before. LOTS of them. And some that just won't go away. Like this one. Granted, I haven't had a UTI (documented, at least) in several years, up until now. So that is a weird thing, yes. But something that would expand to and affect the shunt as well? Hmmm... I just don't know.

But I'll tell ya... I've looked up the treatment for shunt infection (as opposed to shunt malformation) and it's not just as simple as taking a strong dose of antibiotic. No, it's actually quite complicated and means a long stay in the hospital.

Merry Christmas to me and my family!

And that's another thing. I can't imagine being in the hospital, leaving Hubby to fend for life in general, essentially as a single parent, taking care of all of his and Sweetie's needs. Her baths, lunches, hair combing, picking out outfits, making sure all school assignments are getting done on time. Not to mention getting her to school in the morning - during a time when he should be well on his way to getting to his work. Or getting to the hospital. To visit me. And not working. Much like I'd not be working. Thus, neither of us earning money (as neither of us work for places that provide any amount of sick time pay whatsoever.) And Sweetie's birthday is coming up! With a birthday party! Right before Christmas! I'm not done getting ready for Christmas! Aaaaahhhhhh!!!!!

Ahhh... it's all snowballing now. Yep. One thing effects the other and leads to worse and worse things.

Much like leaving a possibly serious health problem unchecked for too long can lead to greater and greater problems.

So. That's where I stand. I think the thing to do, for now, is call my mom (a retired pediatric nurse) to let her know my concerns. Then continue to monitor everything. Finish my round of antibiotics. And take it easy while still living my life.

And do go to the doctor if that's what my gut is telling me to do. Whatever may follow from that - come what may. Better to be safe - and in worse debt - then sorry and dead. That's what I always say!

I'll keep you all posted, of course. For now, let's just all chalk it up to my being my usual overly dramatic, Doomsday self. Yep - I'm sure I'm majorly in trouble here....

.... Ah, no. Oops. False alarm. I'm fine. Of course I am. 

I hope.