Thursday, July 14, 2016

To you my sweet Zoey, on your birthday...

The scar from my c-section has mostly faded (thanks to the skilled hands of a phenomenal surgeon), but the memories from that day and all the days and weeks before and after that day are forever imprinted in my mind.  It was still eight weeks before my scheduled c-section and twelve weeks before my due date with you, but life had other plans.  I had a warning the week before that things go could wrong, but we had still hoped for more time.  When people talk about how you “chose” to enter the world early, I quickly correct them for it wasn’t you that was to blame; you were thrust into this world much sooner than you were supposed to be.  My body simply didn’t want to cooperate this time around, but I’m glad I could protect you for those first 28 weeks.

In the weeks leading up to July 14th these past two years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I didn’t know two years ago.  That on Father’s Day of 2014 when Daddy took some great pictures of Tera and me with her hand on my belly and you inside, that it would be weeks, not months before you would join us.  That on the 4th of July of 2014 I would comment on how much longer I still had to go when it fact I would go into the hospital that very weekend due to the first sign that there was a problem.  That I would host a Pampered Chef party on July 11th and seem tired to everyone, but once again comment that I still had a while.  That during your cousins’ first birthday party people would once more comment on how tired and “off” I looked, but I still didn’t know.  That the morning of July 14th I would drive your aunt to the airport to see her off and get so upset that Tera had fallen asleep in the car on the way home, but not know why I was so upset.  That your YiaYia would be called by Daddy to come over and help me with your sister because I was so tired and worked up and I still didn’t know.   And then late that afternoon something went wrong.  

While Daddy and I sat at the hospital, with nurses and doctors checking on me often, I was informed that you might have to arrive earlier than expected, but it still didn’t seem real.  And then came one of the scariest moments of my life.  All of a sudden it was very urgent that you be delivered, for both your safety and mine.  And so amidst a flurry of chaos and urgency, I was put under and the next thing I knew they were wheeling me up to see you.  Daddy told me that you were stable, two and a half pounds, and doing ok, but when I saw you with all those wires it still didn’t seem real.  The next morning when I woke up and called Nani it still wasn’t real.  When they had to tell us twice that your lung had collapsed and had to put in the chest tube, it still didn’t seem real.  And when nine days had passed before I could hold you it still didn’t seem real.  And when nine weeks had passed before you could join us at home, it still didn’t seem real; not until you were home and in your own bed surrounded by your family.  

And these days I’m reminded daily when I dress you and see the scars from those chest tubes, that it was real.  When we hear a cough and prepare for a potential hospital visit because of your damaged lungs, I know what you went through was real.  And yet, for every new milestone you hit, for every new thing that you can do, I’m reminded that you are simply incredible despite what you’ve had to go through.  When I see you run, walk up the stairs, go down a slide, or say “Momma”, “Daddy” and “Tera” I know how lucky we are that you can do those things.  And today is your birthday.  Simultaneously one of the worst and best days of my life.  The fear I felt that day is unlike almost anything else I’ve ever experienced, and at the same time, it’s the day you completed our family.  You made Tera a big sister; a job she has embraced wholeheartedly.  You brought strength to our family.  You reminded me that no matter what else I accomplish in life, bringing you two in the world has been my finest accomplishment.  

When you were two days old and the neonatologist came into our hospital room at 5:30am to tell us that your left lung had collapsed for the second time, he told us that you were quite the feisty girl.  I had no idea how he could know that about a baby hooked up to machines that breathed for her, had just required a second chest tube, and was only two and a half pounds, but boy was he right.  You are determined, feisty, dramatic, independent, smart, silly, and beyond beautiful.  Looking at those early pictures is still difficult, but I know that you are so strong and so capable of so much.

I imagine that this day will continue to be a difficult one for me for years to come.  I don’t mean to be dramatic, but the emotional trauma I suffered that day is real for me and I need time still to process that.  As you get older you will probably see me cry on your birthday, but know that it’s not from sadness anymore, but for a gratefulness that you are here to see me do it.  That you are here at all.  I put a book on your birthday wish list called You’re Here for a Reason and tonight, your aunt and uncle bought it for you.  And so as part of our nightly bedtime routine, I read to you, but tonight it was You’re Here for a Reason.  If I wasn’t emotional enough before reading that to you, I sure was afterwards.  But its words couldn’t ring truer.  You are a miracle my sweet love, Happy Birthday.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Why hasn't anything worked yet???

I'm supposed to be working on a class I'm taking, but I can't stay focused.  My mind keeps wandering to sensory issues, strategies, and in general, what the hell is wrong with my kid? I don't want to sound like a broken record, but this is a big deal in our house right now.  I just wish I knew what "this" really is.

In my last post I wrote about Tera's sensory struggles.  Well as much as I'd love to say all the little things we tried have a made a difference, I can't.  She's had some days that are a little better than others, but as of tomorrow, she'll have had two straight weeks of very challenging days.  Currently challenging is defined as: hitting, pushing, defiance, outbursts, screaming, meltdowns, and stress.  I've spent more hours than I care to admit reading, watching, and pinning ideas about how to help her.  But what concerns me almost more than anything else is, what if it's not sensory? I mean, her behavioral therapist, OT, and teachers all seem to think so, and so do I, but if the techniques aren't working, what is going on?

In a perfect world, I would have what's referred to as a sensory diet laid out for Tera.  Unlike other diets, a sensory diet is not food related, but activity related and is really more of a sensory routine to help keep her regulated.  In a perfect world I would do this routine regularly and we would see the happy, helpful, sweet, energetic but not destructive, girl we know she can be.  But it's not a perfect world.  There are a lot of factors to keep in mind along with knowing what will make her situation better or worse and I still have Zoey to think about.  Will keeping her home for a week to work on this benefit her or will it make her return to daycare more difficult because we broke her routine? What's practical for her daycare teachers to do with her? Do we keep her out of activities until she's more regulated?

This last one is particularly difficult for me.  See, part of what is prompting this post is that yesterday, after a day at daycare that really hadn't been any better than the those of last week, she had what I would consider her worst swim lesson ever.  She only made it 15 out of the 30 minutes (which has never happened before) because she kept getting out of the pool, looking for and throwing anything she could find in the pool, repeatedly jumping to her instructors (when it wasn't time to do that), splashing, and in general, completely unable to sit still.  It was awful to watch and I will admit I was embarrassed by what she was doing, and then I had to go into the pool area, half drag her dripping wet to change her clothes while she cried the entire time, and the while trying not to completely lose my composure until we got into the car.  I wasn't even angry, I'm just so upset that we don't know what's wrong and how to help her.  But she loves swim so it seems cruel to keep it from her.  On the other hand, it's not fair to the other kids and the instructors to have to spend time monitoring her every move for her safety and the safety of others.  Tonight she has baseball, which she also loves, but will she be able to refrain from throwing the bat after hitting? Will she continue to throw anything she can over the fence? Will she refuse to do what she is being asked and try to run out of the field multiple times?

Possibilities behind this almost two week long situation are: change in routine because she's not going to school anymore, constipation, food allergy or sensitivity (though we don't know of any), growth spurt, a reaction to one of her supplements (though nothing is new), or something else we haven't even considered.  I've tried visual schedules, verbally talking through what's going to happen and what's expected of her, doing sensory activities before we leave the house and while we're out, prune juice to get her stomach more regulated again,  and holding off on her iron supplement for a while.  I think about what she's doing all day when she's at daycare and so desperately want to text and ask, but I'm afraid of what I'll hear back.  I don't want to take her anywhere because it's exhausting to hold her through a meltdown.

I spend my evenings reading articles, posts, and watching YouTube videos on sensory techniques all the while hoping that one of them will be the magic trick to get her regulated.  I'm three days into summer break and while I love seeing my kids faces more, I don't even feel that happy because I'm constantly distracted by how to help her and feeling helpless that I haven't.

In a few minutes I will start gathering her stuff for baseball and hoping it's not a disaster.  Then tonight I plan to connect with both her OT and behavioral therapist to see if we can't brainstorm some ideas and talk about what we need to really put in place to help her get regulated.  And wine.  There will probably have to be some wine involved because this beautiful, challenging girl is stressing me the hell out...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

When sensory issues are big issues

Memorial Day weekend.  There’s the actual reason behind it; honoring our fallen veterans, our surviving veterans, and all others that are or have served.  It has also come to signify the unofficial start to summer, BBQ’s, time with friends and families, and of course a three day weekend.  This particular long weekend was a bit of a struggle for a particular five year old in our house.  

She finished preschool last Wednesday and just had daycare on Thursday and Friday and struggled both days with behaviors.  On Friday her behavioral therapist texted me after her session with Tera and told me that she seemed to be struggling with sensory issues.  

Let me backtrack a bit here.  Before becoming a parent of a child with special needs, I might have been among the many to jump to the conclusion that a child acting out somewhere in public might be the result of a “different” parenting style, or just a stubborn, “strong willed” child.  But now I know better.   

Are kids being more aggressively diagnosed than ever before? Perhaps, but that is because what was previously viewed as a “problem” child or “behavior issue” may truly have been a kid that has some real issues that nobody really understood or knew about before.  And for anyone who is thinking this is made up or people are being highly sensitive, take a minute and think about what it’s like to know that your child is capable of being better, but they are constantly struggling against something that other people don’t understand.  And that if those parents, and teachers, knew of tools that could help reach those children, they would try them in a second.

My child is a stubborn, strong-willed child, but she’s also one that is affected by sensory issues.  She does not have a secondary diagnosis, but there is no doubt on the part of us as her parents, her teachers, or all of her therapists, that she is in fact sensitive to sensory issues.  What are these issues you might be wondering? I’ve mentioned them here before, but essentially she craves physical input.  I have a hard time describing it to other people, but I imagine it makes her feel antsy, distracted, overwhelmed, and frustrated.  What causes her issues? That is a great question, and one that we are constantly trying to figure out.  Oftentimes her behaviors are the result of not feeling well (refer back to November through January when she was so constipated and uncomfortable that her behaviors regressed significantly and that within a month of “cleansing” her, she was making huge positive strides).  Sometimes she is overwhelmed by people, excitement, a change in her routine, or something else we are totally unaware of.  Her usual ways of reacting to these things are hitting, drop downs (refusing to move or listen), pushing, flat out refusal to listen to direction or redirection, screaming, shaking, and throwing.  One of the ways I’ve found to help get her out of this (though it can be difficult to do and watch) is hold her until she screams and then ends up crying which usually indicates that she’s on her way to coming out of it and resetting herself.

This weekend, that had to happen multiple times.  The most frustrating part is we didn’t/don’t know what to do to get her back out of this slump.  We have many strategies to try when she gets like this: deep breathing, taking a break from everyone with either Tom or me, joint compression, hard squeezes, heavy work, and having her help someone with a task.  But they don’t always work.  

This weekend she got to visit with a lot of her favorite people, but she didn’t always handle it well.  And neither did I because it’s tiring and it hurts to watch her go through this. We tried giving her lots of outside time to get our her energy, we tried low key time to let her relax, we tried time at home, time visiting, naps, no naps.  We never found anything that really helped her “click” back into her other usual self.  And this is just one of the reasons why we are exhausted; regularly.  She’s not just a five year old kid doing normal five year old things.  She needs things like joint compression, meltdowns (not tantrums), time outs (which mean time to reset for her) cold baths (she runs very hot), and constant attention.  We’re constantly looking for and open to new things to try with her; sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes we realize after a week or two of this that she’s sick and that was her way of telling us.  

These days it’s hard to scroll through social media and not find something or someone that is critical of every form of parenting.  My realization, and my challenge to others, is if you can find a minute to try and be compassionate about what might be going on with a particular child, or parent, you might find yourself judging a lot less.  

I know our family and friends know a lot about what we go through with Tera, but we (and her teachers) are the only ones that go through it every day.  Even on those rare days or weeks when one or both kids are sleeping through the night, I’m almost always thinking about whether Tera is struggling that day and what advice I can offer to help them/her.  It’s exhausting to think about your child’s behavior 24/7;  whether it’s to worry about how good/bad it is to then thinking about what might be contributing to it and problem solving.  And then making sure that everyone else that works with her (teachers, therapists, coaches) also know, is more draining than a lot of people imagine.  

And then add to this mix Zoey, our other stubborn, strong-willed child.  Zoey is almost two, discovering language, testing and pushing limits, still has her own health issues that pop up, and generally loves to interact with her big sister, but on her terms.  She has also decided that her first line of defense and reaction when she doesn’t get her way is to hit (usually Tera, myself, or Tom).  So at home with the two of them, Tom and I often find ourselves more as referees than parents.  Meanwhile Tera doesn’t understand that Zoey is still learning appropriate behaviors and Zoey doesn’t understand that for the most part, Tera is still learning that too.  

So once again let me clarify that I’m not doing this to ask for pity.  I simply share this because I want other people to be understanding of individuals they might come across that they don’t understand.  Most outings for us with Tera have to be thought through logistically.  Will she be entertained enough? Will she be expected to sit for any length of time? Are there other kids and if so, will that make it better or worse? Is it a new place? Do we have backup (other family and friends that she’s comfortable with)? And if she ends up having issues, is it somewhere we can leave easily?  When we say we can’t do something, or that it might be too difficult, it’s not because we’re not willing to try, it’s because we deal with so much on a daily basis, that adding something else to that can oftentimes feel overwhelming.  And exhausting.  Have I mentioned we’re really, really tired?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How many more weeks till summer?

It turns out I have some really great ideas while driving. So I’m going to have to try getting my ideas out and recording them on my phone to use later so I don’t lose these gems.  

I wish I could say I had happy gems today, but after a day of PARRC testing with my most challenging class, alas, I cannot.  Let me try and recreate what I had going on in my head earlier.  

My teaching career is coming up on almost 13 completed years (minus two maternity leaves).  It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this for that long, but I’ve learned and grown so much in that time.  For the majority of those years, we teachers have been inundated with the idea that forming student relationships is the key to student success.  And of all the “initiatives” that have come and gone, it’s the one I most believe in and to be perfectly honest, the one I’m best at.  I will readily admit that I’m a pretty good (most days) at teaching math.  But what I truly have a passion for, is connecting with my students.  It obviously doesn’t happen with all of them, and if I’m being honest, I’ve probably let go sooner than I should have some of the ones that may have needed it the most.  However, overall, I doing a pretty decent job.

But during all those institute days, school improvement days, workshops, staff meetings, and department meetings, I feel like they’ve left out a really key component of those student relationships: they can be incredibly exhausting and painful.  And that’s not to say it’s not worth it, but all that commitment comes with a price.  

I had two really great advisories when I started.  Kids, many of whom are older now than I was when I started teaching, who I still have a really great relationship with.  Kids who were with me during my pregnancy with Tera and her diagnosis.  I can’t even explain how important to me so many of them still are.  My last advisory started out with some rough students and while I was close with a few, there was a lot of transition within the group.  Then there’s my current group.  My fourth group of freshmen, and I went in with a new perspective.  I decided to do some intense work with them this first year in hopes of it paying off in the next three years.  So every week I talk to them about their goals for the next week and if they meet their goal, they get a treat.  I check in with their teachers, I work tirelessly to break them of the “everything is someone else’s fault” mentality, and I make sure they know that as hard as I am on them, I care very much about them.  Some of these kids asked in the first couple weeks if they could call me mom because I was looking out for them.  That’s a seriously intense responsibility.  Every week I watch these kids struggle with knowing they want to succeed and not knowing how to change their behavior to make that happen.  I see them promise me to be do better and then not want to look me in the eye when they fall short.   Those are painful moments.  This is an exhausting endeavor.  Not giving up on them when I know that’s what they’re expecting exhausts every fiber of my being.

Teacher burnout is a real thing.  We are asked by the state, by parents, by students, by administrators, and by society to give and give and give some more to make sure we churn out successful people.  And they want us to do this by administering multiple standardized tests that mean very little to the students, with curriculums that we often don’t believe in, in a short amount of time, and many times, in addition to being their parent, counselor, and personal cheerleader.  We also have meetings, trainings, and grading.  And with every passing year, someone somewhere wants more proof to hold us accountable so that someone who knows nothing about my classroom somewhere in the state of Illinois can say based on test scores and a dog and pony show held once every two years that I’m “adequate”.  To be truthful, this year I was proficient and considering my life these past two years, I’m mostly okay with that.

Which brings up my next point: I really am someone’s mom.  Two someones actually.  And a wife, and a daughter, and a sister, and a friend.  But so many times those other roles of mine suffer because I am so completely exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Being a parent of two kids who have more health issues than their typical counterparts, developmental delays (Zoey is now joining Tera in speech therapy), and who actually want to spend time with a mom who isn’t constantly on the brink of losing her shit, isn’t easy after days, weeks, and months as an educator also.  I’m not lying or exaggerating when I say I feel like I can only be an okay mom AND teacher because either my students have sucked out all my patience and energy or my actual children have.  

And this is where I have problems with people shitting on my profession.  Are there bad teachers out there? Of course there are, just like any other profession.  Do I want to hear yet again about how we get summers off? Not particularly.  To slightly modify a George Carlin line, “You want it? You try it!” I want to stop hearing people say anyone can do my job. I don’t pretend to think I could be a waitress: wanna know why? I suck at small talk and in general not dropping stuff.  Office job? Maybe, but I like my students (sometimes, but definitely more in October than April…) Referee? I’m a teacher so I kinda already am.  Glorified baby sitter? I love that one.  Yes, that’s why I have degrees in both Math and Spanish and a masters degree.  

I love my job (again, more in October than in April), but I’m tired of the general feeling that I owe people something.  But really, I’m just tired.   I will always work to connect with my students, but no one will convince me that I don’t pay for it with sleep, energy, and patience.  Sometimes at the expense of my own family.  Is it worth it? Yes. My students know I am there for them.  I know things I don’t want to know, but they feel comfortable telling me.  I’m sad that in nine years of education, some of them haven’t felt cared about by someone, but happy that they know I do.  

Please do not misinterpret this post.  I am not patting myself on the back or looking for praise.  Many teachers do all of this and so much more every day.  I fall short of what I expect of myself regularly.  If you know a teacher that has connected with you, or your child, in a meaningful way, let them know (via email) that way when they have a bad day, they can look back and feel like they made a difference to someone.  When you hear about a teacher strike, take a few minutes to consider every angle.  And if you meet a teacher, instead of “I don’t know how you do it!” try “Wow! That sounds so interesting.  What do you love most about what you do?”

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


I'm trying to keep this ball rolling so here goes my second post in a week after a long hiatus.  I had such a positive response from so many people after my last post and for any of you that took the time to say or write something to me, you have no idea the impact of your comments.  I still oftentimes think this is just something for me to do to help myself and don't always truly believe that other people have an interest in what I have to say so it's very reassuring to me to know that you do.

It's getting to be a very rough time of year.  I'm worn down from the stresses of work and the lack of motivation I deal with on a daily basis and Tom's busy season at work is kicking into gear.  Add to that the fact that we aren't out of sick season yet (Zoey was home with Tom both Monday and Tuesday) and that our everyday lives with Tera already tend to be on the challenging side and suffice it to say, June is looking pretty good right now.  

Our weekly schedule is as follows: On Mondays Tera and Zoey both have speech therapy, Wednesdays are swim for Tera, Thursdays were dance for Tera (she just finished last week), Fridays Tera has behavior therapy and every other Friday Tom plays hockey, then Saturdays and Sundays are grocery shopping, errands, working around nap time, home projects, laundry, and preparing for the next week.  That's when we aren't dealing with an illness otherwise we also add in one to two doctor's appointments, three to four nebulizer treatments a day, worse sleep than usual, and a constant worry that another hospital visit will unexpectedly end up in our plans.  

We also try to incorporate therapy strategies and general good parenting in there when we can.  Things like giving the girls nightly responsibilities (putting plates in the sink after dinner and cleaning up toys), limiting screen time, baths, outside time when weather permits, and trying not to get discouraged about Tera's ongoing potty training are just a few things.  Some weeks we feel like rock star parents that really nailed those chore charts and not caving on screen time.  Other weeks we're so completely exhausted we're ready to let the kids eat pizza and macaroni and cheese and watch Doc McStuffins until their brains actually ooze out of their ears.

It's so hard for me, and this goes for many teachers, parents, and parent/teachers, to be the best in every hat I wear.  I realized around five years ago, and then again even more so around a year and a half ago, that I just can't be the best teacher and best mom at the same time.  My students need a lot of encouragement and support, I have a child with Down Syndrome, and another child that is a former 28 week preemie with a compromised immune system and compromised lungs.  I'm also a wife with an incredibly supportive husband and in order for our marriage to survive all this chaos, we need time with just each other.  And because of all of this, I usually feel like I'm failing someone or multiple someones.   

But today, I found success! If you recall, one week ago I made my big return to blogging as a result of a very traumatic (for me) swim lesson for Tera.  To say I was nervous about tonight is an understatement.  I knew something had to change, but I wasn't sure what.  Then this morning it occurred to me that she's been experiencing success with a visual schedule during her ST/OT sessions.  So after school before I picked her up, I made up what I hoped would be a visual list of expectations of Tera from our time of arrival at swim lessons until we left.  Here's what it looked like.
Before we got out of the car to go in, I showed Tera the schedule and we talked about each item.  We talked about it as we walked in, I let her hold it as she got changed, and we talked about it as we walked to her lane for her lesson.  The way her swim school is set up is there is a glass wall that separates the pool area from the seating area.  So I sat right in front of her lane, right up to the glass, and held the schedule so she could see it anytime she turned around to look at me.  When she did a great job not throwing her goggles or performing a skill well, I gave her a big smile and thumbs up.  When she turned around to look at me after splashing, I shook my head no and she stopped by holding her hands together.  After wards she got out of the pool with very little resistance and while the showering wasn't perfect, it was far better than last week.  She got changed with no issues, went potty again, got her promised lollipop, and we were out.  I was so incredibly proud of her.

The skills still weren't quite there, but as you can imagine with any kid, and has always been the case with Tera, we have to get the behavior component figured out first before any real learning can occur.  The tricky part is of course figuring out what that behavior component has to entail first.  At least now I have something we can work with and the biggest plus? I'm not in tears tonight! Which is really super since I have to be at parent teacher conferences tomorrow night from 6:30 to 8:30... 
What better way to kick off the playoffs??

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My non-triumphant return to blogging

Today was a rough day.  Let me clarify, it’s been an interesting 48 hours.  Yesterday, for an unknown reason, Tera swallowed a magnetic marble which resulted in an ER visit.  Fortunately, there was only one and it should pass on its own so beyond the initial stress of wondering how bad the situation was going to be, it was a really quick visit to the ER and now we just await its passing.  

And so why my non-triumphant return to blogging? Why now when I haven’t had nearly any opportunities in I don’t even know how many months? Why is today so significant? It’s not, it was just a rough day that resulted in me having to acknowledge what our lives will always be: a challenge.  I don’t mean this to be overly dramatic, but when I really break it down, the minute we decided to become parents, we accepted that our lives were going to be more challenging.  And the minute we learned of Tera’s diagnosis, they become even more so.  

Tonight Tera had her first swim lesson in a new class.  She’s been at the same level since she started last August and at the place where she takes her lessons they are continuous classes and when the kids master the skills for that level, they move onto the next one.  Except in this case her class was for up to four year olds so when she turned five, she was moved to the next one.  Don’t get me wrong, she had made a lot of progress in that first level and she was close to moving up anyway, but now here she is.  

Transitions for Tera, like many other kids, can be difficult.  So this being the first time in a different lane, with a different teacher, and with only one instructor (we’ve been spoiled and many times Tera ends up with a one-on-one instructor) it was a challenging session.  I always watch through the glass with all the other parents and let me say, it was a stressful 25 minutes.  She struggled with waiting for her turn, she struggled with following the instructor’s directions, and she struggled with not being able to do the same things the other kids could do. As I watched all the other parents calmly watch their kids do their thing, I almost cried right then and there.  Because Tera mainly struggled tonight. With a clearer mind now, I realize that although Tera cannot do the same things the other two girls in her group can do (yet) it was also her first time in this new level.  I also know that the new circumstances very well may have contributed to her inability to listen (she had an otherwise great day at school).

But I also struggled tonight.  I struggled with the fact that most of the other kids were doing what they were supposed to be and didn’t have to have one of the lifeguards within a foot or two of them so they didn’t endanger themselves or anyone else.  I struggled with the fact that once again, Tera can’t do what the other kids can do.  

Then came the shower afterwards.  This is by far the most challenging part of swim lessons with Tera.  There are a wall of showers and since I usually have work clothes on I can only instruct and encourage Tera on what to do, I can’t do it for her.  Tonight was the worst.  She put way too much soap in her hair and then refused to keep rinsing.  So after forcefully encouraging her many times to keep rinsing, and her refusing, I had to admit it wasn’t going to happen and with a lot of anger, pulled her out and had to get her dried off and changed knowing I was going to have to give her a bath when we got home to rewash her hair.  She was crying in the changing room and I felt like the worst, most inadequate parent there.  

On the way home, the stress of the past half hour along with an avalanche of other feelings came crashing down as I cried the whole five minute drive home.  I was angry, sad, frustrated, guilty, and heartbroken.  I was upset about the not listening, her struggle with the skills, and lack of potty training.  I was upset about the multivitamin, probiotic, omega-3 (for her skin), allegry medicine, iron supplement (to hopefully help with her sleep issues), Miralax (for her stomach issues), and nebulizer that all have to happen around dinner time.  I was upset about the therapies, IEP meetings, doctors appointments, specialists, and communication between everyone that has to happen.  I was upset about the search for shoes that will accommodate her orthotics, but that won’t slide off her feet so easily that she takes them off constantly and throws them.  It all hit me at once and I couldn’t handle it.

As I got home still in tears, I got Tera washed up, changed again and before heading down to dinner, we tried again to go potty.  And as I sat there with her it all hit me again and I just couldn’t stop crying.  Tera in all of her infinite abilities at the age of five, hopped down, sat on my lap and just held me.  She patted my back, gave me kisses, and as I cried and apologized to her, she looked me in the eyes, put her finger on my nose and said “boop”, which is a game she and I have played for a long time.  I couldn’t have thought of a better way to instantly bring me to my senses.  I smiled and her whole face lit up.
Tera "booping" her Dad
This little girl is amazing.  Her sense of empathy is beyond compare.  While she is most certainly the reason behind many of my tears, she can also stop them in the most amazing ways.  In the midst of her aggravating swim lesson, she jumped to her instructor with such glee and the most amazing smile of complete joy, that I couldn’t help but smile back.  

And so this incredible influx of emotions is the reason behind my non-triumphant return to blogging. I miss this so much and as much as I would love to promise to myself at least one a week, I know I can’t set myself up for that disappointment.  So I’ll add it to my list of “when I have time” items and “things I can do when I want to relax” choices.  I have so much more to share on the development and our lives with these two amazing girls, so I hope to be back again soon.