Tiny Toes

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You toddle over to me and reach your arms up. You don’t want anything in particular. Just to be held by me. To be near me.

I pick you up and plop you on my lap and when I look down I see your little feet resting against my legs.

Dimpled toes, arches still forming, ten extra-long digits just like my own. 

I trace my fingers through your wisps of baby hair and wonder where these feet will take you one day. What will you see and who will you meet? What thresholds will you cross, mountains will you climb, dreams will you chase? 

One day I will send you off into the world and you will stand on your own two feet. But, today? Today, I get to hold these tiny toes in my lap. 

When your kid needs surgery

 

img_2927.jpegOn Monday Laine is having surgery for an epigastric hernia repair.

I noticed a bump above her belly button after her bath in early December and it hadn’t been there the night before.

She had also been having a few bouts each day where she would arch her back and cry like she was in pain, so when this bump popped up I was pretty worried.

After I got her to bed I did what every good millennial parent does—consulted Dr. Google–and read that based on the bump’s location and when it appeared, it was likely an epigastric hernia and would need surgery to be resolved.

We got her into the pediatrician the next day and the provider said it was an umbilical hernia and that it would go away on its own. I delicately pushed back—”Really? That’s reassuring because I was doing a little research last night and from what I read I thought it was an epigastric hernia and those require surgery.”

She brought in another doctor to take a look.

“That’s definitely not an umbilical hernia but it is a ventral hernia. We’ll refer you on to surgery.”

We saw a pediatric surgeon near where we live and he and his resident both confirmed it was an epigastric hernia but told Levi and I it could go away on its own. This was contrary to what Levi and I had read, but he was a surgeon—a specialist—standing right in front of us, so it was easy to nod along.

I left relieved and Levi left frustrated. Back to Dr. Google we went and we found countless children’s hospital websites stating epigastric hernias do not go away on their own and need surgery for repair.

We headed down to Nationwide Children’s for a second opinion and the surgeon confirmed it was an epigastric hernia and needed surgery to be resolved. Our experience at Nationwide Children’s was night-and-day from our prior consult. This surgeon sat down in the exam room and talked with me. He listened intently and even drew a sketch on the exam table paper of Laine’s abdominal muscles, the location of her hernia, the size of the incision for the surgery, and explained all pros and cons and steps involved. I can comfortably say I have confidence in this surgeon and his plan.

We scheduled the surgery and up until this point I’ve blocked out the thought of it, but as we get closer and closer, I’ve become more stressed and more anxious.

A week after Garrett turned two he had surgery to have tubes put in his ears, so within a nine-month period both of our kids will have had general anesthesia and a surgical procedure.

I keep telling myself that these are manageable issues and the severity is minor—that this isn’t open heart surgery or brain surgery or an organ transplant or something that takes hours and is life-threatening. And we recognize how extremely fortunate we are and are grateful for it.

But when it comes down to it, there is still a stranger taking your baby out of your arms and walking away with them down a fluorescent-lit hallway. Your child is still put on an operating table in a room full of masked strangers and given general anesthesia.

Levi and I know that Garrett getting tubes is one of the best decisions we’ve made as parents. He spent 18 months with frequent ear infection and persistent fluid and as soon as he got the tubes he spent six months free of ear infections and his vocabulary took off.

So, with all the doctors we’ve seen, research we’ve done, and knowledge we’ve gained, I’m telling myself that it is better for Laine to have the hernia repaired now, before it gets larger and would require a bigger incision, more stitches, and potentially even mesh to repair.

And all of this is one of the trickier parts of parenthood. The weighing of the pros and cons and being the ones to ultimately decide what to do for these tiny people who are unable to know or decide for themselves. And at the end of the day, all we can do is try our best to figure out the situation, push back, get the second opinion, and advocate for our kids.

 

No Resolutions

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Last December I was six weeks postpartum and had a one-year-old who was on his seventh ear infection and I thought it would be a good idea to attempt a Whole 30 in January.

A year later, the only reason I can fathom I’d even entertain this idea–let alone be fully invested in it–is the lethal combination of postpartum hormones and sleep deprivation I was experiencing at the time.

There are good times and bad times to implement extreme changes in diet. For me, having a six-week-old and a one-year-old was not a good time. And I can honestly say I’m not foreseeing a good time—ever—to elect to restrict my diet to that degree.

I made it sixteen days into Whole 30 when I called Levi bawling and told him to bring home Bob Evan’s chicken noodle soup, mashed potatoes, and a bottle of wine.

God bless him.

We’ve reached that time of the year again when people are writing their lists of resolutions and picking their word for the year and I can honestly say I’m so over it.

No resolutions for me in 2019.

Ironically enough, my decision to do so is somewhat related to my Whole 30 attempt. I went to the library last December to pick up a Whole 30 cook book (sweet potato and avocado that, Melissa Hartwig. No royalty money from me) and while I was there I saw a flyer for a writing contest.

I typed up an essay in between bottle feedings and diaper changes and sent it in.

While I only made it through 16 days of Whole 30, I was a finalist in the writing contest and received some prize money. Dave Barry read my essay (he won a Pulitzer Prize so you could say he’s kind of a big deal) and I attended the conference affiliated with the contest and met some inspiring writers.

It’s great to have goals and to work towards something. But, it’s often the things that happen when we’re in pursuit of other ventures that impact us the most.

So, in 2019 I will continue to strive towards things that are important to me, but I’m not intentionally chasing a lifestyle change and I’m not going to measure my success on the completion of a list of objective topics. I’m simply going to live, be open to what’s ahead, and embrace opportunities as they come.

Yoga makes me a better parent

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For the past seven or so years when I’ve had an opportunity to work out I’ve gone for a run. Aside from the solid exercise and post-run high, running has been a great metaphor for life.

That “push-through-the-pain, show-up-and-get-it-done” mentality can be applied to just about any situation.

Except parenthood.

In parenthood you show up (everyday), but that doesn’t mean anything is going to get done. With toddlers and infants there is no pushing through the pain. You actively sit in the pain. There is lots of smiling through gritted teeth and swearing in your mind while you enthusiastically encourage them (for 30-minutes) to eat a cup of yogurt on their own…. and then watch as they wipe their yogurt-covered hands on the table, through their hair, and across the bottoms of their feet in one fluid motion.

Small children cry for inexplicable reasons. They love certain foods one day and act like they’re tainted with poison the next. When you don’t let them go outside on a 20-degree day or make them wear shoes on a splintery boardwalk you might as well be throwing their security blanket through a wood chipper in front of them.

I know, I know they’re growing at lightspeed and getting teeth and trying to make sense of the world around them and the emotions they’re feeling. But that knowledge doesn’t always make it easier at 9 p.m. when they refuse to go to sleep after getting up at 5:30 a.m.

Parenthood is a high-rep exercise in patience.

For so many years showing up and gutting-it-out worked well in whatever I did. Even if I absolutely dreaded the thought of doing something, the job would get done. There was a goal, a finish line.

In parenthood, sometimes the job doesn’t get done. And sometimes it gets done and you have to redo it. Twenty times. In a single day.

Parenthood has no finish line. It’s from the moment those two lines show up until, what I can make of it, all eternity.

And this is why I’ve found such an outlet in Power Yoga.

Power Yoga is based in Ashtanga but it moves more quickly. You lift and hold your entire body’s weight constantly, making it a great strength training exercise, but there are also poses you hold that are extremely difficult, whether due to a balance element or strength element, and breathing through some of these intense poses is what it’s like to remain calm and composed and breathe through inexplicable toddler tantrums, or 11 p.m., 1, 3, and 5 a.m. nighttime infant feedings.

And did I mention the room is heated to 90 degrees? Which to some sounds awful, but I Live. For. The. Heat.

Being able to step out of the house, by myself, and get in a solid workout, mentally and physically, makes me feel better and gives me a perspective shift when I need it most.

Running is an exercise but yoga is a practice. You start every class with an intention and carry that through. Usually at least once during class I will side step, or even fall, while trying a new pose but I hop back in the pose and keep going.

In running success is measured by completion. You finish the run, you get a PR.

In yoga—and parenthood—success isn’t measured in outcomes, it’s measured by how you handle the situation.

 

 

Storytime Pioneers

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After being waitlisted twice we got a call this past Saturday morning from the local library to let us know we had made it in to Storytime. A spot had opened up in the “Tales for Twos” Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. session.

Score.

We were out of town this past weekend and yesterday was a Monday of all Mondays, so it wasn’t until 10 p.m. last night that it dawned on me that the first Storytime of this session falls on Halloween week.

When we lived in Centerville, kids would wear their Halloween costumes to Storytime.

I had no idea whether or not they did that in Hudson.

I sent an email to the library at 10 p.m. hoping someone might answer off hours. Unfortunately, for me, the library doesn’t follow the same rules as corporate America and the email went unanswered throughout the night and early morning.

I didn’t want the kids to miss out if they were the only ones not dressed up and I also didn’t want to be the only mom who brought her kids to Storytime in full costume.

I opted to embrace the Halloween spirit and dress them up. We wheeled up to the library parking lot and I immediately saw one mom carrying her two-year-old daughter into the library wearing normal clothes.

Oh boy.

I went through the extreme work-out that is putting an independent 11-month-old into a chest carrier and having a two-year-old hold your hand while marching through a parking lot and juggling a diaper bag.

Was there a sign-in for Storytime here? Name tags? What room was it held in?

I talked to a children’s librarian to find out and I simultaneously scanned the room to costume check. It didn’t take long for me to notice that none of the other kids were dressed up.

Not a one.

There was one little girl who had a pumpkin cape on over normal clothes, but it was soon removed, whether by her or her mother, I didn’t see.

So, we funneled into the Storytime room with the twenty-or-so other kids and moms and grandparents and Garrett and Laine and I settled onto the carpet (meaning, all of our belongings got thrown into a giant pile beside us and I continuously pulled Laine back to our undesignated area while Garrett insisted on standing up).

There was singing and a book about pumpkins and shaky eggs and bubbles and Garrett and Laine had a lot of fun.

I was initially going to write despite being dressed up as Lightening McQueen and Batgirl, Garrett and Laine had a lot of fun.

But really, because they were dressed up as Lightening McQueen and Batgirl, I think they had even more fun.

To be honest, Laine is still too young to care, but Garrett loves his Lightening McQueen outfit and another little boy came up to him and thought it was the coolest and Garrett was so proud.

They are only little once and I know the magic that comes with being little and the holidays is limited. I see now that it shouldn’t have mattered to me if they were the only ones dressed up or not.

It doesn’t matter what other people think, what matters is if the kids are happy.

What matters is if the kids are having fun.