Our Little Dez

He already thinks poop is hilarious – he chuckles silently when we are surprised at the contents of his diaper.

He bats at the elephant toy on his bouncer but just glares at the monkey.

He prefers to look to the left.

In his 11 weeks of life, he has gained over 6lbs and is now 12lbs, 15oz.

He has kept up his ability to roll from tummy to back and is trying so hard to creep.

He thinks that baby in the mirror is pretty cute.

He is quite the conversationalist once he gets going.

He gives us lots of smiles while looking up at us under his eyelashes, just like Snow White’s Bashful.

He still has that new baby smell.

I don’t know how we ever lived without him.

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The Looming Return to Work

I go back to work in two weeks. TWO WEEKS. Where did the time go?

I am freaking out, to be honest. It wasn’t like this with Jack. Back then, I couldn’t wait to go back to work. This time is so, so different. I want to stay home with my baby and watch him grow! I want to be able to pick Jack up from school and help him get his homework done!

I don’t want to spend 3 soul-crushing hours a day in a car commuting to a job where I take care of other people while I pay someone to take care of my kids.

This all makes the daycare search harder. I mean, aside from the fact that there are so few places in my area that take infants (which feels like silent judgment that I should be home with my baby), it’s difficult to find a provider I trust. If I’m going to outsource parenting to someone else, I want them to be AWESOME and better than me! I haven’t found that so far, though. I’ve found one place that is acceptable, but she has a tiny house and limited hours and only takes kids until they are 2 years old. And because she’s the only one taking care of the kids and there is a toddler and a 6-month-old, she wouldn’t be able to help Dez get to sleep – he would have to learn (quickly!) to fall asleep in a strange place by himself.

It doesn’t feel right.

I’m still searching. I know it’s down to the wire and so incredibly close to the holidays, but I’m doing my best to shove any rising anxiety to the back of my mind and continue about my business. This is how I’m getting through things (like yesterday’s nightmarish task of taking Jack to get his blood drawn – he is deathly afraid of needles and pain in general).

It’s not strength – it’s denial. LA LA LA EVERYTHING IS FINE. JUST KEEP SWIMMING.

How about a cute baby picture to distract us?

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Calgon, Take Me Away

I finally downloaded WordPress onto my phone. I’m much better at using my phone while nursing than a laptop. I lack coordination. Hopefully this will lead to more blogging.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Jack was hospitalized with a blood infection. The baby and I got sick. And then I got a case of mastitis.

Jack is out of the hospital and doing fine, but he’s been on a rigorous antibiotic regimen that involves mixing medication and running an IV several times a day. The worse one is the dose in the middle of the night, but the afternoon dose hasn’t been a picnic, either – usually I’m mixing the IV drugs while using my foot to bounce Dez in the bouncer. I’d run away to join the circus but I’m already there!

This case of mastitis is a bitch. After several days of trying to unclear a plugged duct in my armpit and dealing with horrid shakes and chills and dizzy spells, I called and got some antibiotics. Unfortunately Dez was not tolerating them well at all! So I did what you’re totally not supposed to do – I quit taking them a few days in. Dez is doing much better but I’m not. I now have a mass in my right breast and it hurts like hell! I assume if I keep nursing non-stop on that side it will eventually work itself out (or the breast will fall off?). In the mean time, I want to stay in bed and cry and sleep.

But! Jack has follow-up appointments. And Dez needs shots. And I return to work in a few weeks so I need to find a daycare that takes infants.

Ain’t no rest for the weary…

Kids Notes

I have had so little time to write. It sucks. I need to write. I am much happier when I have been writing.

That’s not to say that I haven’t been happy – I’ve been surprisingly free of baby blues and depression! But how long can I maintain good mental health without participating in something I know keeps me sane?

Anyhoo…here we go with a mad-dash post typed with one hand.

Notes on baby Dez

Dez is a very good baby thus far. Although he absolutely hates getting his diaper changed and wails every time. I think we owe our neighbors some wine for putting up with it. So far I’m not too sleep deprived, but I bet that will change when he wakes up to the world more. And when I go back to work (sob).

David gave Dez his first bottle last week. He took it just fine and then went back to nursing with no problems. Yay for Comotomo bottles!

I got my first smile out of the little guy yesterday when I stuck my tongue out at him. It was awesome! After 5 weeks of nothing but naps and nursing and diapers…finally some interaction!

I’ve been struggling with oversupply again. My body continues to think I should be feeding triplets. This means Dez is gaining weight like crazy and going through zillions of diapers. The cool part of oversupply is that I can pump 3.5 oz. in 5 minutes – on one side. There are lots of cons, though – green poop, gas, choking during letdown, more frequent nursing, so many diapers!!! I am managing better than last time since I know what I’m doing but it’s still frustrating. At least Dez is dealing with it much better than Jack did – maybe because it’s not quite as bad as last time.

At 9 days old, Desmond rolled from his tummy to his back…several times. And he has repeated that performance pretty much daily. He can also go from his back to his side…it’s only a matter of time before he can roll both ways. I fear the toddler years, which will likely come sooner than I would like!

It took a good 3 weeks for his umbilical stump to come off and the area still hasn’t healed so it will need to be treated with silver nitrite. The same thing happened with Jack. I don’t know what’s up with my kids’ belly buttons!

I’m slowly searching for a daycare provider to send Dez to when I return to work in December. It’s a stressful task, to say the least. I’m taking it slow so that I don’t go into a panic and decide to quit my job so that I don’t have to leave my precious baby with a stranger. I thought it’d be easier the second time around but nope! I hope we find a good one right off the bat so that we don’t have to go through everything we went through with finding good care for Jack.

Notes on Jack

Jack is a great big brother. He fetches all kinds of things for me and the baby and always tries to distract the baby during those torturous diaper changes. He’s been good at keeping himself busy when I can’t put the baby down. I’m so thankful we still have our reading and snuggle time together before he goes to sleep so that we can still connect.

He’s generally been in better health and made it to school most days this year. Just a bit over 5 months of treatment left!

We met with his new teacher and found out that he is behind where he should be for a third grader. The things the teacher has noticed are in line with what we’ve seen at home and are common learning problem areas for kids who’ve undergone chemotherapy. We asked his teacher to document anything she sees and we’re going to (again) seek an IEP evaluation – and this time we won’t back down. We’ll be in a better position to argue for the testing now that Jack has been going to school regularly and his teacher is actually noticing his difficulties.

He’s been struggling with his friendships at school. He is so upset when his best friend doesn’t want to play with him and says other kids don’t understand the imagination games he likes to play. I wish I knew how to help him. I had similar issues as a kid but I don’t remember being quite so upset by it. Jack is just so sensitive.

I’ve been very surprised that lately he’s talking more about cancer, too. He found a game in the app store that is all about destroying cancer cells and he loves it! He’s also been drawing blood cells and he found a plush cancer cell on amazon. It’s a little unnerving that he is suddenly so focused on it, but I also think it’s good that he is talking about it. Maybe therapy has helped?

 

Alright, I’d better post this before it self-destructs. More soon, I hope.

He’s Here

On September 2, 2014, at 12:43am, we welcomed our new baby Desmond to the world. He measured 19″ and 7 lbs. 1oz. He was born without a single push on my part!

We are madly in love. Jack met him on his first day of life and said, “This is one of the happiest times of my life!”

Our dog Lambert is channeling Lassie and thinks he should come to Dez’s rescue at the the littlest cry. Lambert even leads David to me when Desmond needs to nurse. We keep trying to tell the dog that we have it covered but he clearly doesn’t think we’re very good at this baby thing.

I’m hoping to get the birth story up soon! Stay tuned!

So Many Experts, So Few Explanations

We’ve seen quite a few doctors over the last week to address Jack’s recent paralysis incident and an increase in headaches that don’t want to go away. Two pediatrician visits, one neurology visit, and lots of phone calls have occured. We have one more appointment Friday with the eye doctor just to make sure things are okay.

None of the doctors had answers for us. No one knows what caused the paralysis and the headaches seem to be tension headaches. Everything looks benign and so we will do nothing for now and hope it goes away (and the paralysis incident doesn’t recur). Perhaps being out of school will help.

Jack’s pediatrician has been great during all of this. He is really good at following up on what is going on with Jack even when we don’t reach out to him directly (usually we call the oncology clinic because we tend to assume whatever is happening is probably due to chemo). He took me aside after the appointment yesterday to talk with me privately, away from Jack. He wanted to know how I was doing and let me know that that we could come to him anytime – that he would figure out what is going on so that we don’t have to. He even went so far as to say he’d noticed that the oncology clinic seems to feel that I’m a worry wart since the things I report that are happening seem to differ from what his dad’s household reports. He doesn’t seem to share this opinion with them, and understands that kids are unreliable when reporting illness – and this is especially true with Jack.

To give an example, if I reported to the docs that “Jack was feeling weak” – it would be because Jack told me that he felt like a chicken filled with whipped cream instead of bones. Jack’s dad would usually not think anything of that kind of statement coming from Jack, other than that Jack is a bit goofy and unique in the way he describes himself. If Jack reports that he got a weird shivery feeling (but he doesn’t feel cold) – I would check his temperature (more often than not he’d have a temp, even if it was slight, or it would be an early sign he was coming down with a cold). Jack’s dad would just assume he was chilly.

I don’t know if this occurs because Jack spends more time with me or just that he tells me more about his feelings or maybe I am some kind of master decipherer! But unfortunately the differences in what is reported between households has the oncologist questioning ME instead of his dad. And I guess maybe they prefer to hear that Jack is doing fine on chemo.

This is partly why David is taking Jack to more appointments these days – to show that it’s not just me (and also to spare me the stress of dealing with these jerks). But it seems that a lot of the damage has been done in the oncology office’s eyes, so we just deal.

In any case, the talk with the pediatrician yesterday was both reassuring (that we have SOMEONE who understands what is going on and who will take the lead on monitoring Jack’s care from a holistic perspective) and frustrating. It’s pretty upsetting to feel that I am not being respected by my son’s oncologist, someone I have to rely on to cure and keep my son alive, and it seems the pregnancy hormones have me a bit more sensitive when it comes to feeling judged negatively as a parent. I’m having a hard time shaking it now that I’ve been reminded.

David and I avoided asking Jack how he was feeling this morning and just sent him off to school, fingers crossed that he would last the day. And it seems he has. There are only 7 more days of school left until summer break, so hopefully we can make it through and we will all get a break from the grind.

Random Notes – aka CliffsBlog

After today, Jack has three lumbar punctures left before the end of treatment (March 2015). That makes me happy. I’m trying to focus on that and not the fact that yesterday, I noticed Jack has tiny scars on his lower back from all the lumbar punctures over the last couple of years.

I’m 24 weeks pregnant and I’ve gained 3 lbs total. I don’t know what to think about that! (When I was pregnant with Jack, I’d gained 20 lbs by this point.) The baby is clearly growing, though, so my doctor says it’s fine.

We haven’t decided on a name for the baby yet. I am (irrationally) worried this baby will never have a name. It’s not that there are a lack of names out there but nothing seems to be “the one.” It feels weird to not know what this baby’s name will be.

Make-a-Wish is coming out to our house on May 22nd to start the interior design phase of Jack’s room makeover! Yay!!!

So far, Jack is physically doing okay with the increase to his chemotherapy dose. Mentally, things aren’t so great and his anxiety has ramped up along with homework (math) difficulties. We found out at his appointment today that the chemotherapy dose is being increased yet again (that makes increases 3 weeks in a row) because he grew a bit since he was last in. And his ANC came back SUPER high, which really made me nervous at first but the nurse case manager said that it’s likely just a sign that he has finally gotten over whatever hit him so hard last August. So yay for that!

We are very much looking forward to the end of the school year in FIVE WEEKS.

Jack is wearing new shoes! He actually has two new pairs! He hasn’t put those freaking fur-lined boots on in over a week. Instead he’s trading off between Crocs and a pair of New Balance sandals. He wears them both with socks, but hey! I’ll take it!!!

This weekend we’re going to Camp Okizu (a free camp for families dealing with cancer). That will be a nice break for us and allow us some time to connect with other families in the cancer community. We’ve heard a lot about how people meet other families at the hospital/clinic but that hasn’t been the case for us. Generally the patients don’t mingle at Kaiser. We’re rarely in the waiting room with other families and the clinic booths are separated by curtains. So anyway, it’s nice to be able to chat with other families at camp who’re going through the same things as us.

Lastly, I had a wonderful Mother’s Day. David brought me fresh Starbucks, a donut, and made me breakfast in bed. He pulled some poppies from our backyard and put them in a vase for me, as well. I got to nap a bunch and then I took Jack to Build-a-Bear. We finished the day off by having Japanese delivery for dinner and watching Game of Thrones. I am cherishing the relaxing day because next year will likely be more chaotic with the baby in the house!

Over Halfway There

I’m in my 22nd week of pregnancy now. We’re over halfway there! We had the baby’s anatomy scan about two weeks ago and it went pretty well. The baby was not being all that cooperative – as I had thought, the kid prefers to tuck himself deep into my pelvis, hence the hip and leg pain I’ve been having for a while now. It took some work on the ultrasound tech’s part to find out the gender because our baby’s little pretzel legs kept getting in the way, but about halfway through we saw undeniable evidence that this one is a boy.

Jack totally called it a few days prior when he said, “I want it to be a girl, but I think it will be a boy.”

I had mixed feelings upon learning the gender, to be honest. I love having a boy already and it seems like boys are a bit easier to raise (with lower-pitched voices). At the same time, my boy is very attached to me and I know girls tend to be more attached to their dads – it would be nice to have someone in the house not obsessed with me (we also have three animals that are males and all gravitate to me)! There are no guarantees, of course. Who knows, maybe this kid will think I’m boring as hell.

Anyway, I’ve gotten used to the idea of having another boy now and all is well on that front.

So, with that, we’ve stopped disagreeing about girl names and turned our focus to boys names. We have two picked out that are tied for first place but I keep hearing one of them pop up all over the place so I don’t know that we’ll go with it. I can’t quite cross it off the list, though.

Last night I dreamed about the baby and saw his face. Unfortunately that didn’t help sway my opinion of either name. Bah! (Maybe I should put the baby’s name up to the a vote – ha!) Hopefully it will all become clear when the little dude joins us in the outside world.

David finally felt the baby move over the weekend! He’s been moving around for weeks but the kicks were inconsistent and I think maybe the placenta is toward my back or something. The kid is getting stronger, though, and loves to be active right at bedtime. Maybe that’s why I continue to suffer from fatigue, headaches, and SERIOUS pregnancy brain!

Because of the fatigue, headaches, pregnancy brain, and overall less patience with the world around me, I’m in hibernation mode. I’ve been making dumb mistakes and forgetting a lot of things, which is super frustrating to me. I’m an administrative assistant, so the fact that I can’t trust myself and must triple-check my work is screwing with my self-esteem! But at least I’m flighty enough to only worry about it for five minutes at a time…

That’s the latest on this pregnancy business. Any questions?

Somewhat Calmer Days

I’m in the second trimester of my pregnancy (at least, I am according to one of the apps on my phone) and things have mellowed out some. Not a lot, but enough that I’m not waking up at 5am having panic attacks and worrying about my ability to parent a second child effectively. Instead I’m waking up at 5am and trying to soothe Jack back to sleep because he’s had a nightmare or three. Or I’m contemplating murdering one of my cats – either the one that likes to scratch every wooden surface in the house or the one that lets out loud, melancholy yowls when he can see the bottom of his food dish.

Pregnancy has made me much less tolerant of my animals’ antics. David has had to tell me to stop trying to give away our pets. And I said fine, but I can’t be held accountable if one (or all) of them doesn’t make it to the end of this pregnancy.

Hormones – they are raging in full force!

Aside from Jack’s nightmares, things with Jack have been a little more manageable as of late. He is enjoying his new adapted PE class, which means, for the first time EVER, he is enjoying physical education at school. We’re being much more lax on homework and watching the clock so that he doesn’t work on homework longer than 20 minutes each night. This helps us all feel less stressed! We bought him a new memory foam mattress and it seems like it’s helping him get out of bed in the morning without the aches and pains (and it’s good for me because my arms were falling asleep when I would lay down with him on his old mattress).

Jack’s been attending therapy for about four weeks now, as well, which started when he began showing signs of depression. He loves going to therapy, which is play-based. He gets to talk about whatever he wants and he’s assured that it’s all private (unless, of course, there is talk of hurting himself or others). He’s had fewer angry outbursts and seems to be more talkative about other things now. Next we’ll have to see if we can do something about those nightmares.

David and I are going in this Friday for our next prenatal appointment and we’re supposed to have another ultrasound done. I’ll be 14 weeks exactly, and the ultrasound tech I spoke with last time I was in said she can usually tell the gender at that time. My fingers are crossed that we’ll be able to find out – baby names are driving me crazy and I hope that knowing the gender will help bring some clarity in that arena. David and I aren’t finding it easy to agree on names – he likes classic American/English names and I generally prefer things that aren’t in the top 100…not to mention that quite a few people I know have either had babies recently or are giving birth this year and some of the names on our list are also being considered by friends.

“You know too many people,” David says.

Jack thinks the baby will be a boy, although the only name suggestion he has offered is for a girl – Ruby. I was impressed by his suggestion, and also a little surprised because he usually names things according to the color they are. Although, now that I think of it, perhaps he is taking inspiration from my own gemstone-inspired name. Huh. (That’s how names get taken off the list sometimes – a thought occurs to one of us like “oh that starts a theme” or “but that reminds me of that crazy person” or “too many celebrity babies have that name.”)

Naming babies is hard…

Anyway, that’s the latest and greatest in our household. And, yeah, feel free to throw some names at us if you think of anything!

Anger Turned Inward

Recently Jack told David that his life was perfect. David looked at him incredulously and asked, “What about the cancer?”

Jack replied, “Cancer doesn’t bother me much.”

Yeah…okay.

Tuesday morning I found Jack sitting in a corner of his room by himself when he was supposed to be putting his shoes on. He was just sitting there. When I asked him what was going on, he told me he felt weird and sad and didn’t know why.

Are you sad because you don’t feel good?
Are you sad because you miss your dad and brother?
Are you tired and that’s making you sad?
Is there something happening at school to make you sad?

None of those, he said. He just didn’t know. He was sad and teary and had no energy for school.

I pulled him into my lap and cuddled with him. I told him I felt that way sometimes, too. We decided to stay home and snuggle under the covers and watch a movie together. We would have a mental health day.

He went to school on Wednesday, and then Thursday came around. Upon waking, he complained that his back hurt, he was shivery, and he had no energy. We went about our normal morning routine and I hoped he would rally and be able to go to school. But he did not. Instead his stomach and chest started hurting.

I decided to give him some time and then I told him I was going to take him to school but that if he wasn’t feeling better by lunch time, I would pick him up. He buried his head in the couch and started hitting it. He growled. I told him I would let him work it out and get his shoes on while I brushed my teeth. But when I came back, he was throwing things and holding up a screwdriver by his face and pulling on his hair. I told him he wasn’t allowed to hurt himself, and he stomped off to his bedroom and slammed the door behind him.

After a bit he emerged again but was still growling and stomping and throwing things about. So I tried to talk to him.

You seem really upset. I bet you’re mad that you feel sick all the time. You probably hate taking so many pills. And you don’t have any control over those pills.

“The pills feel like poison,” he replied. He had quieted a bit and was listening to me, albeit with a frown in place.

I bet that makes you mad that you have to take medicine and that medicine doesn’t even make you feel good – it just makes you feel worse!

Jack nodded.

Medicine is no fun. And you know what, cancer sucks. I hate cancer. It’s not fair that you have to deal with cancer, Jack. You didn’t do anything to deserve cancer. Cancer is a jerk and it shouldn’t be allowed!

“Yeah, I hate cancer, too! It makes me want to break things!”

Well, you can’t break things, but what about ripping things? I’m sure we have scratch paper you can rip up. Sometimes ripping things up makes me feel better. Oooh, and what if you drew cancer and THEN ripped it up?!

That got some life back into him. We headed to the office and I found some scratch paper and handed it over to him. I then gave him some space.

He drew two pictures, each time coming to find me and show me how he could rip cancer to shreds. He shouted “murder” at the pieces and then stomped on them. A bit of a smile came onto his face after destroying the second drawing. I asked if he would draw one for me to rip up, too. He went right to work and came back with an illustration of a body labeled cancer and a dotted line across its throat. He pointed and said, “This is where you can rip its head off.”

I ripped its head off and then kept on ripping while yelling at it, “I hate you, cancer. How dare you hurt my son! You leave Jack alone! No one wants you here! You suck and we hate you! Don’t ever come back!”

And then I stomped on the little pieces for good measure while a cackle bubbled up in Jack’s throat. I felt so much relief to hear that laugh. My boy was back, if just for a bit. We had broken through the cloud that engulfed him.

He kept drawing and I made a phone call to see if I could move up the initial appointment with the new therapist. Thankfully, a spot had opened up in her schedule for that evening.

I then got a text from Jack’s aunt asking if some time with cousins might cheer Jack up. Thank you thank you thank you, I thought. We ate lunch and headed straight there. His aunt and I drank tea and chatted while Jack and his cousin Isha closeted themselves in the office and drew pictures together.

Later, he put up a fight about leaving and got angry all over again but we headed to the therapist’s office anyway. After an hour with her, he was almost back to his old self. I don’t know the details about their session, but Jack did draw something for the therapist and also said, “I told her about my sad feelings.” He also said he’d love to come back. So, I’ll count that as a good session indeed.

Jack asked to watch an episode of Cupcake Wars with me when we got home. We snuggled up and watched a British-themed episode. Jack kept petting me the whole time and we hugged over and over.

It was a terribly rough day in an already difficult week, but at the end it felt like we’d made progress. Maybe Jack’s grief has moved on from denial and he is now allowing the anger to come out. Maybe next time he talks about cancer, he’ll admit that it sucks instead of pretending that his life is perfect.

Even if he doesn’t, we have one picture leftover from yesterday to mark the occasion. We may have to frame it.

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